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Chongqing Grand Theater


Despite it being the fastest growing city in the Republic of China, most Westerners have never heard of the Chongqing principality, located in The South Western part of the country. The explanation to the city’s anonymity lies in how it plays Chicago to Shanghai’s New York. In other words, it focuses on China’s internal and faster growing economy, versus Shanghai’s global outreach.

Pretty, Chongqing ain’t, although the megalopolis has a few hidden gems to be discovered. One of them is the Chongqing Grand Theatre, situated on a headland above the Yangtze River. Masterminded by Meinhard von Gerkan, co-founder of German architecture firm GMP (Von Gerkan, Marg und Partner), the stunning building resembles a ship in motion sailing along the Yangtze.

The theatre is also the largest building in the world to use water air conditioning – a blessing given Chongqing’s poor environmental record. Because of its proximity to the Yangtze, the theatre utilizes the thermal principle of water within its internal structure  to save up to 30% of power usage – the river water is approximately 15 degrees cooler than the air in the summer and 10 degrees warmer in the winter.

Although only a small percentage of Chongqing’s residents will ever be able to enjoy the Grand Theatre from inside, millions will flock to witness this architectural masterpiece from outside and enjoy the panoramic view across the Yangtze.


Images: Hans-Georg Esch, courtesy of GMP