Shenzhen Opera House 2.0

Shenzhen, China

Project: Shenzhen Opera House Design Competition

Client: Municipality of Shenzhen 

Program: Performing arts complex 

Size: 167,000 m² (1,800,000 sf)

Budget: Confidential

Location: Shenzhen, China

Collaborator: Consortia with REX

Consultants: Agence Ter, Arup, Atelier Ten, Cost Plus, Front, Magnusson Klemencic, Theatre Projects, Threshold


The Shenzhen Opera House is the most important of the Ten Major Facilities in a New Era program launched by the City of Shenzhen. It is intended as a new cultural landmark and world-class art palace. The program includes an Opera Hall, Concert Hall, Operetta Hall, Multifunctional Theater, and support spaces, on a 43-acre (17.5-hectare) landfill peninsula along Shenzhen Bay.

The REX + JET team was 1 of 17 shortlisted chosen. They were one of the top 6 finalists in the Shenzhen Opera House  International Competition and were awarded 3rd place winner.


Our proposal has been advanced to both address the Jury’s comments and retain its original boldness, efficiency, and public engagement. Specifically, this new composition maximizes use of the site and ‘softens’ the design—while maintaining its iconic strength—in three ways


:•by elevating the below-grade public uses to an at-grade Gallery covered by a majestic canopy;


•by visually integrating the public realm under the canopy with a park both active and contemplative; and


•by splitting the former tower into two sculptural buildings placed on and through the canopy in a dynamic composition.


Per the Jury’s request, the ensemble’s structure, constructability, vertical transportation, and life safety / evacuation have been elaborated, and the viability of each confirmed through peer reviews by two or more world-renowned experts with extensive experience in China. The Jury also requested we justify the height of the proposal. Although the performance halls are now divided between two buildings, we have chosen to maintain one of the buildings as a tall structure. Per the Competition Brief, Shenzhen Opera House is envisioned as “a new cultural landmark and world-class palace of art for Shenzhen, the most important of the Ten Major Facilities in a New Era” plan. The stature of our proposed concept allows Shenzhen Opera House to see and be seen, contributing to this aspiration. Opera, symphony, theater, and dance patrons are offered magnificent views as far as downtown Shenzhen and Shekou Port from the buildings’ elevated lobbies, terrace, and rooftop amphitheaters. In turn, the buildings’ unique forms and heights render Shenzhen Opera House visible far and wide—an inviting icon of culture.