Written by Thomas Stellmach

The Egg

The Egg by Thomas Stellmach

national performance beijing02 aka the egg
Photo: Reuters

The Beijing Opera House, the first of the Fantastic Four new “Grands Projets” of the 21st Century China, completed last September and open to the public last December, is under a lot of controversy.

Differently than the other three projects (National Swimming Center, by PTW, Bird’s Nest, by H&M and CCTV Tower by OMA), the Opera was built at the southwestern area of the Forbidden City, few steps to the west of the Tiananmen Square. The project by the airport-design specialist Paul Andreu is still the center of all attentions in Chinese news.

national performance center beijing01

The feelings are ambiguous. In one hand, the proud government opens the building as a sign of great interest in culture, right in the heart of the city. Criticism comes when a) specialists believe that the project doesn’t seem to respond to the spirit of the Chinese architecture and the history of the city and b) people realize that the building is too distant and feel scared in front of the agoraphobic water spaces around the titanium shell.

The cost of the opera, 336 million U.S. dollars, was also one of the main controversies. However, after the opening it seems that everyone involved in the Opera, from art director to musicians are happy with one of the best acoustics you could find in Asia.

national performance beijing-main hall

The entrances for the concerts cost between 3 and 200 euros. I can’t imagine how different your position inside the theatre can be to pay almost 100 times more than other people, but this is also the new China, where it’s all about status and to be in the right spot, even if perhaps only 10% of the audience really understands what an opera presentation is.

national performance beijing-music hall

The flowers are killing the atmosphere, but they are almost inevitable in contemporary China (did you see Rem’s shovel few posts ago?).

national performance beijing-music hall-celing

Personally I can’t understand the ceiling of this music performance hall. Using the roof for a bright relief behind the lightening system seems quite ackward, giving a sense of unfinished that doesn’t match the rest of the interior (over designed).

Where are the baggage claim counters?

national performance beijing03

While we have to wait very short time to see the other 3 shiny new stars of the booming icons. CCTV towers are connected, the Swimming Center is cladded and the Bird’s Nest structure is finished.

Meanwhile, the eyes of China and the world are already put into the design of Shanghai’s 2010 Expo.

I only hope that shortly after the Olympic Games the energy will be focused into the housing problems of China. In the next 15 years, specialists believe that China needs to build new housing for 300 million immigrants from the countryside. T-H-A-T is scary.

  Comments ( 10 )

  1. hmm … link was there in the comment … nicely embedded into an >a< tag.
    but it was similar to yours, indeed.

    is there a script to prevent html in the comments ?


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