Harbin Grand Theatre

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Harbin Opera House
Aerial view of Harbin Grand Theatre
General information
TypePerforming arts centre
LocationCultural Island, Harbin
GroundbreakingApril 2011
Design and construction
ArchitectMa Yansong
Main contractorSika AG et al.

The Harbin Grand Theatre or Harbin Opera House (Chinese: 哈尔滨大剧院; pinyin: Hā'ěrbīn Dàjùyuàn) is a multi-venue performing arts centre in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, China. Measuring 850,349 square-foot, the theatre is designed by well-known Chinese architect Ma Yansong.[1]


The theatre is situated in Harbin, a UNESCO-listed "City of Music",[2] hosting city of the renowned annual Harbin Summer Music Concert and a metropolis where China's first ever orchestra was established. The building serves as the centerpiece of Harbin's Cultural Island—an arts hub by the Songhua River and surrounding wetlands in suburban Harbin.

Clad entirely in white aluminium panels, the opera house swoops and curls against the bleak landscape, at times resembling a thundering snow-drift and, at others, a hyper-stylised tented yurt.[3] The primal references are deliberate, a not entirely subtle nod to the region's harsh climate and wild topography., making it nicely embedded into the surrounding nature. While the bold and beautiful structure inside the opera house achieves zen aesthetics with contemporary white walls, atmospheric skylights and tons of timber.[4]

Performance venues and facilities[edit]

The Harbin Grand Theatre includes a number of performance venues:[5]

  • Grand theatre: Consists of 1538 seats, it is the main part of the theatre.
  • Smaller theatre: The second largest part consists of 414 seats. This backwall of it is sound-proof glass, making natural scene a background for performance.
  • Dressing rooms and Rehearsal Halls
  • Public space: Both ticketholders and the general public alike can explore the building. There are carved paths on the façade of the building. Visitors are able to climb up to the top of the building for sightseeing. Grand lobby space are resting place for visitors and sightseers.
  • Parking space: 470 parking places are offered on the ground floor outside the building.

Design inspirations[edit]

Ma wanted its snow-white structure to have a soothing aesthetic, in contrast to modern landmark buildings in Chinese cities which are often towering and imposing. The architect emphasized the building's integration to nature as an extension of surrounding wetlands, waterways, and snowy terrain.[4]

The architect "envision(s) Harbin Opera House as a cultural center of the future – a tremendous performance venue, as well as a dramatic public space that embodies the integration of human, art and the city identity".[6]

A panorama view of Harbin Grand Theatre


The Harbin Grand Theatre is an award-winning-architecture of a number of international architecture awards, including ArchDaily 2016 Building of the Year Award,[7] WAN Performing Spaces Award 2016[8] and 2017 IALD Award.[9]


  1. ^ "Harbin Opera House, Harbin, China". worldarchitecturenews.com. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  2. ^ 王寒露 (13 December 2018). "UN recognizes China's northeastern Harbin as "Music City"" (Xinhua). People's Daily Online. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  3. ^ "Pitch perfect: MAD reveal the Harbin Opera House's sweeping curves". archiexpo.com. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Move over, Sydney: The new Harbin Opera House is a force of nature". cnn.com. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  5. ^ "Harbin Opera House / MAD Architects". archdaily.com. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  6. ^ "The Breathtaking Harbin Opera House in China by MAD Architects". architectureartdesigns.com. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  7. ^ "Grand Theatre Opera House in Harbin China received "ArchDaily 2016 Building of the Year Award"". kling-freitag.com. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  8. ^ "WAN Performing Spaces Award 2016 Winner Announced". worldarchitecturenews.com. Retrieved 14 December 2018.