Shanghai Grand Theater

300 Renmin Da Dao, People's Square


People's Republic of China


Jean-Marie Charpentier 1998


It is a Chinese cosmological view, from the Han dynasty 2200 years ago or earlier, that Heaven is round and the earth beneath is square (tian yuan di fang). This tradition has been represented rather literally in architecture ever since, most recently and locally to the Shanghai Grand Theater in the Shanghai museum, facing it across the People's Square, completed only three years previously.


The twist on this familiar plot by French architect Jean-Marie Charpentier is to turn the Heavenly circle on its side, and create the upper part of the structure in the form of a Heaven-facing arc, hosting outdoor theaters and a garden.


The main theater is in the square block below. The cable-hung glass curtain walls of this block given the building an unusual level of transparency.


Simon Glynn 2011

How to visit


The Theater is just north of Renmin Avenue in People's Squre. By Shanghai Metro take Line 1 or 2 to People's Square Station.


The Theater is close to the Shanghai Museum in the middle of the Square.




For more information and images visit the architect's web site at To find what's on visit as a theater, please visit


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