巨蛋 National Centre for the Performing Arts

Designed by French architect Paul Andreu and completed in 2007, the National Centre for the Performing Arts also fits into China’s 2008 Olympic national re-branding pantheon. It’s actual Chinese name is 国家大剧院; what you see in the post title 巨蛋 means Giant Egg, a pretty obvious nickname considering the building’s shape, size and huge reflecting pool. Said reflection doesn’t really work when the wind picks up.

To reach the egg-encased Opera, Music and Theater Halls you walk beneath the water in a long subterranean glass-enclosed corridor. Between the water and reflective metals, the experience conveys a corporate coldness, but contrasts remarkably well with the shell’s interior lining of warm Brazilian mahogany. The completely alien relationship the building has to its context, the top-down approach to producing evidence of culture, and the structure’s budget I all find problematic, but the detailing and the warm wash of light sliding along the wooden interior was incredible.

 

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The thin golden screen that runs along the theater’s outer circulation creates an appealing gradient of a volume.

 

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The exhibition galleries that lined the tunnel featured a show on historically famous opera, music and theater performances and performers, but also a fantastic traditional opera stage exhibition. The show had excellently modeled, drawn and written descriptions of stages from all over China, demonstrating the dozens of topological differences:

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