With more than 3,500 years of history, the city of Xingtai, in the south of Hebei province, is one of the oldest in the country. Immersed in rapid growth, it builds a colossal theater that represents the turning point of an ambitious urban plan that looks to the future without forgetting its historical legacy.
This is the case with its spectacular ceramic façade, which pays tribute to Xingtai's rich porcelain manufacturing tradition. The entire project also rests on a traditional philosophy of this area in eastern China, that of Tian Yuan Di Fang or 'Round Heaven and Square Earth', a way of understanding the universe.
From the past to the future
The norwegian studio Snøhetta is responsible for the design, called the Grand Circle Promenade, which will bring more than just a theater to the city: it will build a new cultural landmark.
In fact, it is much more than a mere theater and also includes a science and technology museum, a large circular event square and a central eco-park. Together, they will add up to a huge space for "interaction and creativity," says Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, one of Snøhetta's founders, adding that the project, like the city, "looks to the future without leaving behind its rich history."
Based on the circle (the philosophy of the round sky, which represents its elements in movement, such as the moon and the stars) the line that it describes unites and connects all the cultural programs that meet in this area: culture, science and nature, creating a harmonious but also inclusive space where any visitor can enjoy different activities and views around and inside the Grand Theater even if they do not necessarily have tickets for a show.
The square Earth would represent the firm and stable terrain, in this project represented by the park and the science museum.
Xingtai Grand Theater
The design also evokes another tradition in the area, in this case constructive. And is that the name of the city itself includes the Chinese character for well (xing), reflecting the importance it had in the development of this technology. Its most modern building will also look to the past in this sense through the inclusion of a central pond embraced by a walkway that surrounds it before turning to exhale over the theater, reaching 22.5 m in height and reaching the deck, with magnificent views over the complex.
The theater will rise on sloping columns projecting a large curved façade that will be covered with ceramic pieces, paying tribute to the manufacture of porcelain in which Xingtai historically stood out. The same building is later framed in a square and glazed perimeter that reveals the subtle support of the structure in the columns.
A space full of life
The great theater will serve as a space for all kinds of performances but also, and highly emphasized by its creators, it will be a place where activity and life arise more or less spontaneously around it.
Thus, and from the walk around the pond, which can be used for any event or informal meeting (for example, picnic) to the large amphitheater that extends from the pond, the whole place invites you to enter and enjoy (even "appropriate") , as explained by the architects) of the spaces, which is why it is expected to become an important milestone for both Xingtai citizens and future visitors.
The opera of the future is in China
The great theater of Xingtai comes to join other megaprojects developed by China, which emphasize large cultural infrastructures as the spearhead of new urban developments.
This is the case of the Shanghai opera, also by Snøhetta, a global design that projects not only the architecture, but also the interior design and landscaping of the entire area in which it is located, designed to become a benchmark that places to the city at the forefront of modernity and culture.
Also noteworthy is that of Hangzhou, in this case the work of the Henning Larsen study and which proposes an iceberg-shaped structure that emerges from the lake in which it is framed.