Chinese National Centre for the Performing Arts

Chinese National Centre for the Performing Arts
Chinese National Centre for the Performing Arts
Chinese National Centre for the Performing Arts

Construction of the National Center for the Performing Arts officially started on December 12, 2001 after four years preparation and was completed in 2007. Some revisions have been made to the original plan to reduce costs and construction area. The cost of the project is nearly 3 billion Yuan (US $360 million). The 5, 442 seat theater consists of a 2, 398-seat opera house, a 2,019-seat concert hall, a 1,035 seat drama house, an art exchange center, shops and other facilities. Some critics say the cost to build a single seat at the theater is about 484,000 Yuan (US $58, 500), equivalent to the price of a luxury car. The huge spending will mean expensive tickets out of the reach of ordinary residents. Total construction area is 149, 500 square meters, because the 30,000 square meter parking lot, originally included in the plan, has been built separately. This new underground parking lot can provide the entire Tian’anmen Square area with its first major parking lot. The parking lot can accommodate 1, 000 vehicles and 1,400 bicycles. Parking will no longer be a headache when there are major activities in the square. Covering an area of 120,000 square meters, the gigantic dome-half underground and nestled in an artificial lake—-is located near Tian’anmen Square. A total of 6.750 tons of steel was used for the entire project.

Chinese National Centre for the Performing Arts—Some surprises

Located on the west side of the Great Hall of the People in downtown Beijing, the theatre was built to a modernistic design by French architect Paul Andreu. Although the theatre is not the world’s most luxurious, will present “Some surprises”: some of the world’s best performance facilities. Departments involved with the building of the theatre also solicited opinions from experts and the general public on the design before finalizing the plan.

A domestic contest held in November 1997 attracted eight schemes from five designers. But the authorities then decided to extend participation to overseas companies. The success of foreign-designed projects, such as the Shanghai Grand Opera, has given officials the confidence to award such an important project to a foreign company if it wins the contest. The Proprietor Committee of the Theatre finally selected 21 foreign designers from dozens of applicants. The public bidding of the scheme for the National Grand Theatre attracted 36 architectural design groups. Among these were the SGA Design Group from Italy, which took part in the design of the Sydney Opera House; Wilhelm Holzbauer from Austria, which was the designer of the Amsterdam Municipality Building; and Theatre and Architectural Design Academy of Qinghua University, which designed the original scheme for the National Grand Theater of China in the 1950s. By July 14, 1998, the participants had submitted 69 schemes for a panel of judges to consider. The panel consisted of renowned architects from both China and abroad, including Fu Xinian, Peng Yigang, Pan Zuyao, Richard Bofill from Spain, Yoshinobu Ashihara from Japan and Arthur Erickson from Canada. The winner was decided and approved by a selection committee of outstanding Chinese and foreign architects. Forty domestic and overseas companies set out on April 13, 1998 to compete for the honour of designing the National Centre for the Performing Arts.

None of the 69 designs submitted as part of a competitive bidding process was accepted. Those who assessed the designs decided none of the designs met standards for comprehensiveness or high standards established by the committee, but five of the 69 were allowed to participate in the second round of bidding after revisions were made. The nine new or revised designs were submitted by November 10, 1998. Three were selected from this group for presentation to the Directing Committee, which was then chosen one to further polish, plans and finally implement them in construction. The entire design insisted on the creation theme of “a theatre within the city and a city within the theatre.”

The theatre is China’s largest, as well as its first comprehensive and multifunctional theatre. The design should bring home at sight that it is a theatre, nothing else, with Chinese characteristics and in harmony with the other buildings in Tian’anmen Square. The building’s height has not exceeded 45 meters, keeping it below the height of the Great Hall of the People.

From the glorious imperial architecture of the Forbidden City to the emergent space-age design of the New national Theatre Building, China’s capital is a city of striking cultural and visual contrasts.

Chronicle of National Centre for the Performing Arts
  • 1958: Premier Znou Enlai (1898-1976) called for the construction the Centre and suggested it be located “to the west of the Great Hall of the People.” But the project wad under-funded, and construction was halted.
  • October 1996: The 6th Plenary Session of the 14th National Congress of Communist Party of China( CPC) passed a resolution to build the Centre.
  • October 1997: The Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC approved the project.
  • January 1998: The leading group for the construction of the project and the Committee of the Construction Proprietors were founded.
  • April 1998: The State Council approved plan to built the Centre and opened bids for the designs.
  • July 1999: French architect Paul Andreu’s design won the bid.
  • February 2000: Beijing Urban Construction Group Co Ltd, Hong Kong Construction (Holdings) Ltd and Shanghai Construction Group won their bids to Jointly construct the theatre.
  • June 2001: China’s International Engineering Consulting Corporation reviewed and appraised the design.
  • December 13, 2001: Construction officially began.
  • December 2, 2003: Construction was completed.
  • December 2007: Performances began.

Slated to become china’s top performance venue, the Centre comprises three theatres encased in titanium and glass, forming a huge sphere hovering above a man-made lake and surrounded by gardens. Its distinctive, shimmering oval lies immediately to the west of the west of the Great Hall of the People, located on Chang’an Avenue and running across Beijing imperial axis from Tian’anmen Square to the Forbidden City.

Construction was postponed for 18 months, and technical and budget issues resolved, with costs cut about 20 per cent to 3 billion yuan(US $395 million)

The National Centre for the Performing Arts staged its first test show on September 25, 2007 and more than 20 performances were staged during its pilot programme. It was officially opened at the end of 2007.