China, Chongqing 

Grand Theater


Competition 2004 - 1st Prize
Design Meinhard von Gerkan with Klaus Lenz
Partner Nikolaus Goetze
Project management Volkmar Sievers
Design team Heiko Thiess, Monika van Vught, Robert Friedrichs, Matthias Ismael, Tobias Jortzick, Dominik Reh, Christian Dahle, Julia Gronbach
Project team Knut Maass, Huan Zhu, Kerstin Steinfatt, Jan Stolte, Nils Dethlefs
Client Chongqing Urban Construction Investment
Construction period 2005-2009
Gross floor area 100,000 m²



Hans-Georg Esch

The Grand Theater is situated on a headland above the Yangtze, directly opposite the business district of the Chongqing metropolis. The uniqueness of the location and the panoramic view of the imposing cityscape, together with the building's sculptural architecture, will make the theater a landmark.

A stone platform base supports the glass sculpture; the ground plan and elevation are subject to strict functional requirements despite their seemingly arbitrary expressiveness and maritime analogy.

The Grand Theater does not have the typical façades made up of wall and window surfaces. Due to the light that urges its way out from the inside, and the reflections of the sun, clouds and water on the complex-angled and broken glass surfaces, the building appears to glow in new moods created by the light. Wherever daylight and sunshine make their way into the building's interior, the glass shell becomes a climatic skin allowing for views in and out of the building, connecting the interior and the exterior. In the areas were the interior should remain hidden, e.g. in the tall stage towers, a second, massive shell provides the necessary protection.

Both concert halls with their respective foyers are situated in the longitudinal axis, similar to the keel line of a ship, thus forming entrance areas at the bow and the stern. In the center, in other words midship of these entrance areas, is the exhibition hall, which joins all the theater foyers together. All kinds of performances and events can take place simultaneously, independent of one another.