Tianjin Grand Theatre

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Tianjin Grand Theatre
Tian Jin Da Ju Yuan Quan Jing .jpg
Alternative namesTianjin Cultural Center – Grand Theatre
General information
Architectural styleModernist Architecture
AddressYuexiu Road, Hexi District, Tianjin, China
Construction startedSeptember 2009
CompletedApril 22, 2012
Cost¥ 1.533 Billion
Height45 Meters
Technical details
Floor area105,000 m²
Design and construction
Architecture firmGerkan, Marg and Partners; East China Architectural Design & Research Institute Co., Ltd.
Awards and prizesNational Luban Prize for Construction Project
Renovating team
ArchitectMeinhard von Gerkan, Stephan Schütz, Cui Zhongfang, Fang Chao

Tianjin Grand Theatre, [1] also known as the Tianjin Cultural Centre Grand Theatre, is located on the east side of the Tianjin Cultural Centre, Hexi District, Tianjin City, People's Republic of China. It is the largest venue in the Tianjin Cultural Centre. Designed by German GMP architectural company, the theatre adopts the style of modernist architecture. The construction of the Tianjin Grand Theatre started in 2009, completed and put into use on April 22, 2012. Its total construction space amounts to 105,000 m². The theatre can seat 3,600 people, and costs 1.533 billion RMB in total.

Tianjin Municipality in Peoples Republic of China

Tianjin, alternatively romanized as Tientsin, is a municipality and a coastal metropolis in Northern China on the shore of Bohai Sea, it is one of the nine national central cities in Mainland China, with a total population of 15,621,200 as of 2016 estimation. Its built-up area, made up of 12 central districts, was home to 12,491,300 inhabitants in 2016 and is also the world's 29th-largest agglomeration and 11th-most populous city proper.

China Country in East Asia

China, officially the People's Republic of China, is a country in East Asia and the world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.404 billion in 2017. Covering approximately 9,600,000 square kilometers (3,700,000 sq mi), it is the third or fourth largest country by total area. Governed by the Communist Party of China, the state exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities, and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

Gerkan, Marg and Partners architectural firm

Gerkan, Marg & Partners (gmp) is an international architectural company based in Hamburg, Germany. The company was founded in 1965 by Meinhard von Gerkan and Volkwin Marg, and now has more than 300 employees in 13 offices.


Operas, dances, musicals, symphonies, Chinese modern dramas, and Chinese operas are all performed in the Tianjin Grand Theatre. The number of various performances staged in a year reaches 300.

Opera Artform combining sung text and musical score in a theatrical setting

Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theater. Such a "work" is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery, costume, and sometimes dance or ballet. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor.

Dance A performing art consisting of movement of the body

Dance is a performing art form consisting of purposefully selected sequences of human movement. This movement has aesthetic and symbolic value, and is acknowledged as dance by performers and observers within a particular culture. Dance can be categorized and described by its choreography, by its repertoire of movements, or by its historical period or place of origin.

Symphony extended musical composition

A symphony is an extended musical composition in Western classical music, most often written by composers for orchestra. Although the term has had many meanings from its origins in the ancient Greek era, by the late 18th century the word had taken on the meaning common today: a work usually consisting of multiple distinct sections or movements, often four, with the first movement in sonata form. Symphonies are almost always scored for an orchestra consisting of a string section, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments which altogether number about 30 to 100 musicians. Symphonies are notated in a musical score, which contains all the instrument parts. Orchestral musicians play from parts which contain just the notated music for their own instrument. Some symphonies also contain vocal parts.


Tianjin Grand Auditorium

The Tianjin Grand Theatre grew out of the Tianjin Grand Auditorium located in 24 You Yi Road, He Xi District, Tianjin. The Tianjin Grand Auditorium was the convention centre of the Tianjin Hotel architectural complex. Its construction started in 1959, and completed in 1961. Wang Yayuan from the Tianjin Industrial Architectural Design Institute, Ministry of Architecture and Construction, led the designing work for the auditorium. As the largest hotel complex and auditorium at that time, its construction space amounted to 32,700 m². Its architectural style emulated the Great Hall of the People. Managed by Tianjin municipal government, the major function of the auditorium was to receive guests, hold all sorts of governmental meetings and other performances. Since its completion, all previous meetings of CPC Tianjin Municipal Committee and Municipal People's Congress, Political Consultative conferences, and government hosted large-scale activities were held here. [2] In 1976, the front building of Tianjin hotel was reinforced for better earthquake resistance.

Great Hall of the People state building in Beijing, China

The Great Hall of the People is a state building located at the western edge of Tiananmen Square in Beijing. It is used for legislative and ceremonial activities by the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the ruling Communist Party of China. The People's Great Hall functions as the meeting place for the full sessions of the National People's Congress (NPC), the Chinese legislature, which occurs every year during March along with the national session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a political advisory body. It is also the meeting place of the National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which, since 1982, has occurred once every five years and the party's Central Committee which meets approximately once a year.

In 2000, the re-construction of the auditorium started. Tianjin Construction Engineering Group's holding subsidiary, the Sanjian company took charge of the construction work. In August, the medium-sized theatre was first re-constructed. On the 15th of December, its re-construction was completed and then started operating. On August 18, 2001, the grand theatre and vestibule of the small theatre began their re-construction. On March 30, 2002, the project was completed. The re-constructed auditorium was then named as ‘Tianjin Grand Theatre’ on the basis of the change of its function. Zhang Lichang, the then Communist Party Secretary of Tianjin wrote the tablet to commemorate. [2] From 2002 to 2012, the Tianjin Grand Theatre and Tianjin Grand Auditorium were actually ‘one organization with two names’. Different names would be used when different activities were held. For government conferences, meetings or official activities, ‘Tianjin Grand Auditorium’ would be adopted as the name. For commercial activities and performances, the name ‘Tianjin Grand Theatre’ would be used.

Vestibule (architecture) anteroom (antechamber) or small foyer leading into a larger space

A vestibule also, known as an arctic entry, is an anteroom (antechamber) or small foyer leading into a larger space, such as a lobby, entrance hall, passage, etc., for the purpose of waiting, withholding the larger space view, reducing heat loss, providing space for outwear, etc. The term applies to structures in both modern and historical architecture since ancient times. In modern architecture, vestibule typically refers to a small room next to the outer door and connecting it with the interior of the building. In ancient Roman architecture, vestibule referred to a partially enclosed area between the interior of the house and the street.

Zhang Lichang was a Chinese politician. He was a member of the 16th Politburo of the Communist Party of China, and the Communist Party Secretary of Tianjin.

Tianjin Cultural Centre

Tianjin Grand Theatre and the Nightscape of Musical Fountain Tian Jin Da Ju Yuan 20120428.png
Tianjin Grand Theatre and the Nightscape of Musical Fountain

In March 2009, the Tianjin Municipal Government initiated a public bidding for the cultural centre's architectural design plan. For the grand theatre, four plans submitted by well-known architects such as Rem Koolhaas and Meinhard von Gerkan were selected into the second round. [3] The design plan for the theatre raised an extensive discussion and interest in Tianjin. [4]

Rem Koolhaas Dutch architect (b.1944)

Remment Lucas Koolhaas is a Dutch architect, architectural theorist, urbanist and Professor in Practice of Architecture and Urban Design at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. Koolhaas studied at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London and at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Koolhaas is the founding partner of OMA, and of its research-oriented counterpart AMO based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. In 2005, he co-founded Volume Magazine together with Mark Wigley and Ole Bouman.

On May 25, 2009, Huang Xingguo, the then mayor of Tianjin, presided at the meeting of the Standing Committee of Tianjin Municipality and heard the report of different plans for the design of the cultural centre. The final design plan for the Tianjin Grand Theatre (including its venues) was then decided. The plan from Gerkan, Marg and Partners and East China Architectural Design & Research Institute Co., Ltd. won the bidding at last. From June 3 to 12, 2009, public opinions about the Design Plan for the Cultural Centre of Tianjin Municipality were solicited through the coverage of news medias and display in Tianjin Planning Exhibition Hall. In September, the construction of the new theatre began. Zhang Gaoli, the Communist Party Secretary of Tianjin at that time visited the construction site personally for many times and facilitated the scheduled completion.

Huang Xingguo Chinese politician

Huang Xingguo was the Mayor of Tianjin, and, between 2015 and 2016, the acting Communist Party Secretary of Tianjin. Huang is originally from Zhejiang province, and previously served as party chief of Ningbo, and the party chief of Taizhou. In 2016, he was investigated by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and subsequently expelled from the Communist Party of China for breaking party regulations. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison upon being convicted on charges of bribery.

Zhang Gaoli Vice Premier of the Peoples Republic of China

Zhang Gaoli is a retired Chinese politician. He served as the Vice Premier of the People's Republic of China between 2013 and 2018 and as a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, China's highest ruling council, between 2012 and 2017. Prior to his ascension, Zhang served as the Communist Party Secretary of Tianjin between 2007 and 2012, and the Party Secretary in the economic powerhouse of Shandong province between 2002 and 2007.

On May 4, 2011, Culture, Broadcasting, Film & TV administration of Tianjin Municipality, the responsible authority of the Tianjin Grand Theatre signed the contract of entrusted operation and management with Beijing Qu Dong Culture & Media Co., Ltd. The latter one took the responsibility of running and managing the theatre. Thereafter, the Tianjin Grand Theatre separated from the Auditorium (which was operated and managed by Tianjin Hotel Group). The government-directed model turned into market-based one. [5]

Earlier in 2012, the Tianjin Grand Theatre was completed and put into use before the meeting of the 10th Tianjin Municipality's People's Congress. On April 22, 2012, the pilot run started, and the first performance was successfully staged. On April 27, symphony was first staged in the concert hall. From April 29 to May 7, the inaugural performances and ceremony were held in the grand theatre. [6]

From May 1 to June 30, 2013, the first International Chamber Music Festival in Tianjin was hosted in the Tianjin Grand Theatre. 19 concerts including performances from the violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, Gidon Kremer, Chamber Music team of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Emerson String Quartet, Chinese pianist Chen Sa, Erhu player Yu Hongmei, Guqin player Wu Na and more than one hundred artists were staged in the theatre. In addition, these artists went to the local community to help people better appreciate the beauty of chamber music. [7]

Since the opening of the theatre, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Mariinsky Orchestra, Japan's NHK Symphony Orchestra and other top-level art ensembles all performed here.

Architectural Features

The Indoor Setting of the Tianjin Grand Theatre Tian Jin Da Ju Yuan Nei Jing .jpg
The Indoor Setting of the Tianjin Grand Theatre

The total construction space of the Tianjin Grand Theatre is 105,000 m². It costs ¥ 1.533 billion and can seat 3,600 people. There are five floors above the ground, three floors under the ground. The theatre is equipped with 3,600 seats. The Tianjin Grand Theatre is designed by Gerkan, Marg and Partners, which has frequently participated in the designing of other landmark architectures in Tianjin. At the same time, it also won the bidding of Tianjin West Railway Station and other landmark buildings. Tianjin Sanjian company took charge of the construction and was awarded the National Luban Prize for Construction project in 2013. The production team of Transformers: Age of Extinction also shot the film in the Tianjin Grand Theatre.

The Philosophical Feature of the Design

Architect Meinhard von Gerkan said that the Chinese philosophical concepts of ‘Heaven’ and ‘Earth’ were adopted in the design. The Tianjin Grand Theatre symbolizes the ‘Heaven’. The theatre is raised above a man-made lake. Its round shape refers to the concept of heaven. The Tianjin Natural History Museum symbolizes the ‘Earth’, which is realized through its pitched roof. As the theme building of the new Tianjin Cultural centre, the grand theatre's dish-shaped roof echoes with the museum's, symbolizing the concepts of ‘Heaven’ and ‘Earth’ together. A delightful contrast is thus formed in the new cultural centre.

Constructional Details

The grand theatre consists of four parts - the opera house, the concert hall, the experimental theatre and the multi-functional hall. Among them, the opera house is the largest. Located in the south side of the theatre, it can seat 1,600 people. Four entrances (A, B, C, D) of the opera house are set up from the ground to the third floor. Access for disabled visitors is also available. The concert hall with an island-shape stage is the second largest and can seat 1,200 people. Its design is inspired from the terrace in vineyards. It can hold a full-sized orchestra and a large choir. To the east of the opera house and concert hall are the experimental theatre and the multi-functional hall. Both are equipped with 400 adjustable seats. Besides, there is a 1,200-meter street full of stores selling works of art linking the four different parts inside the grand theatre. [8]

Theatre Operation and Alliance

The Tianjin Grand Theatre's Concert Hall Tianjin Grand Theater Concert Hall.jpg
The Tianjin Grand Theatre's Concert Hall

Operation Model

The Tianjin Grand Theatre and the Tianjin Grand Auditorium were once ‘one organization with two names’. Thus, as the largest convention centre of Tianjin, the grand theatre was completely operated by the municipal government in the past. When the new grand theatre was established in the cultural centre, the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China was also held in Beijing. The reformation of cultural system was proposed at the same time. [9]

In 2012, the Tianjin Grand Theatre shifted from the government led operational model to the entrusted one. The entire market-based operating model - BOT (Build - Operate - Transfer) was adopted. Beijing Propel Culture & Media Co., Ltd acquired the power for operation of the theatre and earned the support from the municipal government. Although the company did not get financial aids from the government, it enjoyed the policy of tax reduction. The annual operation cost approximates ¥ 100 million. [10] Besides, the company got the permission to use the venue (5,000 m²) under the theatre's 6-meter-high step to develop creative industry as a subsidy for the operational cost. According to the contract signed by the municipal government and the company, Propel Culture & Media Co., Ltd is supposed to accomplish 300 performances every year. Among them, 15% should be ‘A-level’ performances. [11]

Performances and Art Education

Concert of Charles Dutoit and Philadelphia Orchestra in Tianjin Charles Dutoit and the Philadelphia Orchestra concert in Tianjin.jpg
Concert of Charles Dutoit and Philadelphia Orchestra in Tianjin

Every year, more than 300 performances are staged in the grand theatre, including operas, dances, musicals, symphonies, Chinese modern dramas, Chinese operas. [11] Since the establishment of the theatre in April 2012, about 10 high-toned operas have been performed annually. For example, Puccini's Tosca , Tchaikovsky’s EugeneOnegin carried out by Stanislavski Russian Theatre, Béla Bartók’s Bluebeard'sCastle, Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto , Il trovatore , Aida performed by Hungarian State Opera House, Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro by Deutsche Oper am Rhein, and La traviata of Giuseppe Verdi. In June 2012, Concert of Charles Dutoit and Philadelphia Orchestra was staged in the theatre. 296 performances have been staged and 270,000 visitors have been served till the first anniversary of the theatre’s inauguration ceremony. [12]

Besides these performances, the grand theatre also plays a vital part in art education. Activities such as academic forums, international chamber music festivals, and ‘art education and community outreach’ are frequently held in Tianjin. [13]


The grand theatre's audio-visual equipment is excellent. According to the comments of experts, the opera house is unanimously judged as the best in China, by no means inferior to the National Centre for the Performing Arts. In April 2012, the then artistic director and chief conductor of Zurich Chamber Orchestra Tang Muhai commented ‘the facilities of the Tianjin Grand Theatre are among the bests in the world…the sound effects are fabulous.’ [14]

In April 2013, a cold wave swept across Tianjin and temperature dropped immediately. The municipal government's central heating system had already stopped its supply on March 15. Without the heating supply, the theatre's temperature could not reach 23℃ (the minimum requirement for normal performances), which directly caused the suspension of Royal New Zealand Ballet’s performance. [15] After this incident, the theatre submitted its proposal to the municipal government for the installation of its independent heating system. But this effort proved to be futile as the competent department asserted that the central heating system could satisfy the theatre's needs without any problem.

Theatre Alliance

The Tianjin theatre alliance was founded in September 2012 after the registration and approval by Tianjin Civil Affairs Bureau. It is a non-profit trade union consisting of main theatres (including the Tianjin Grand Theatre), artistic groups and performance marketing agencies in Tianjin. Beijing Qu Dong Culture & Media Co., Ltd acts as the deputy director of the union.

Periphery of the Theatre

Transportation Facilities

Planning and design of Tianjin Cultural Center Tian Jin Shi Wen Hua Zhong Xin Zong Ping Mian Tu .jpg
Planning and design of Tianjin Cultural Center

The Tianjin Grand Theatre adjoins You Yi Road, Le Yuan Avenue and many other high streets of the city. It is also next to the hub of communications of the cultural centre. Tianjin subway line 5 and line 6 join here. Line 10 and line Z1 also have stops near the theatre.

Besides, the public transit system near the theatre is quite advanced. Line 912, 641, 675, 632, 868, 686, 668, 859, 857, 866, 4, 619, 47, 48, 800, 838, 826 and nearly 20 buses can send visitors straight to the cultural centre. Express buses also pass through this area. [16]

Peripheral Scenery

The Tianjin Cultural Centre is also the centre of the administrative area of Tianjin Municipality and part of the Xiao Bai Lou financial district. Adjoining the CPC Tianjin Municipal Committee and the people's government of Tianjin Municipality, the Tianjin Grand Theatre is the main building in the cultural centre. There are Tianjin Library, Tianjin Art Gallery, Tianjin Museum, Tianjin Natural and History Museum, Tianjin Science and Technology Museum and other venues in its vicinity. Besides, there are other landmarks and scenic resorts around the theatre, such as the Meijiang Convention and Exhibition Center and the Five Great Avenues tourist area.

There is a musical fountain opposite to the theatre. The spouts and water jets are accompanied with the classical music such as Butterfly Lovers' Violin Concerto and Con te partirò. It creates a theatrical spectacle with light, music and water at night. [17]

See also

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