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Floating Egg, Beijing, China

National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing, China

This huge floating egg is nothing but a National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) or National Grand Theater of China. It is situated in the hearth of Beijing, right to the west of Tiananmen Square and the Great Hall of the People, and near the Forbidden City. The architect of this fascinating building is renowned French architect Paul Andreu. The construction started in December 2001 and the inaugural concert was held in December 2007. The theatre building, an ellipsoid dome roofed with titanium and glass, is surrounded by an artificial lake. The sphere has a total surface area of 49.500 m². The dome measures 212 meters in east-west direction, 144 meters in north-south direction, and is 46 meters high. It looks like an egg floating on water. Paul Andreu appreciates the ancient traditional Chinese architecture, but broadly included modern architectural elements of futuristic design. The building houses three performance auditoriums – a 2.416-seat opera house, a 2.017 seat concert hall and a 1.040 theatre – as well as art and exhibition spaces opened to a wide public and integrated into the city. The building is connected to the shore by a 60-meter long transparent underpass. The opera house is at the center. It is the most important and mysterious element in the project. The concert hall and the theatre are situated on either side of the opera house. The inside areas take the form of an urban district with its succession of different spaces: streets, plazas, shopping areas, restaurants, restful spaces and waiting lounges. When the construction had completed, the total cost rose from 2.688 to more than 3.2 billion CNY (500 million USD). It was very difficult for the Chinese to accept such a modern building with Eastern motives into their historical traditional city, but they couldn't resist the temptation of that unearthly beauty. This glorious building is much more impressive and fascinating at night, when a magical lighting gives a fantastic view to this brilliant masterpiece of world architecture.

By Lilit Khalatyan,