Cover Ateliers Jean Nouvel has been tapped to design and build a new opera house in Shenzhen, China (Photo: Courtesy of Ateliers Jean Nouvel)

Ateliers Jean Nouvel has won an international architecture competition to design and build a new opera house in Shenzhen

Paris-based architectural practice Ateliers Jean Nouvel, founded by Jean Nouvel, has been announced as the winner of an international architectural design competition to build a new opera house in Shenzhen, China. 

Jointly organised by the Planning and Natural Resources Bureau, Bureau of Culture, Radio, TV, Tourism and Sports, and Bureau of Public Works of Shenzhen Municipality, the competition attracted over 100 applicants from 14 countries around the globe, with Jean Nouvel’s firm selected as the first-prize winner. The contest has also drawn interest from some of the world's most established architectural firms, including Bjarke Ingels Group and Kengo Kuma & Associates.  

Nouvel’s winning proposal, titled “The Light Of The Sea”, will feature a striking design that deviates from the usual enclosed form of opera houses. Located in the Dongjiaotou Area in Shenzhen Bay Coastal Leisure Belt, the structure is envisioned as a “new international platform for cultural exchanges, a new cultural landmark of Shenzhen and a quality coastal art parlour for the public”, where architects will artfully incorporate the coastal setting into the opera house to showcase the beauty and unique aura of the seaside neighbourhood.

“The design takes a complete and unique perspective to shape an oriental scenario. It gives shape to a roof that echoes with the mountain and the sea, highlighting the unique advantage of the site and creating a sense of publicity and place for the gray space under the roof,” the designer commented on the project. “Shenzhen Opera House is a sacred place for the human expression of artistic emotion…the construction of a major Opera House means inventing a space for emotion.”

Spanning over 220,000 square meters, the opera house will feature a 2,300-seat opera hall, 1,800-seat concert hall, 800-seat operetta hall, 400-seat multi-functional theatre, as well as other cultural spaces, a stage design and production centre and offices. The competition-winning design also sees the usage of mother-of-pearl architectural elements—a smooth, shining iridescent material that echoes the seaside landscape—which will be used to adorn the seaside terraces and the walls of the opera house’s auditorium.  

See also: Zaha Hadid Architects Tapped To Design Phase Two Of Beijing's International Exhibition Centre

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