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Prof. Chen Keshi's shell: an opera house of fantasy

Peking University, Sept. 14, 2014: The construction of a “made-by-PKU” masterpiece, which stands upright on the seashore of the Pearl River Delta, is coming into its last phase.

The bigger "Sun Shell"'s steel skeleton is completed.

On August 14, the 90-meter-tall “big shell” part of the Zhuhai Opera House finished its roof sealing. Until then, the shell-like buildings had been completely settled on the Beaver Island, shaping out a beautiful picture with sea views around.

In 2009, the municipal government of Zhuhai held a bidding process for the city’s opera house, the first on-sea in China. Among all the submissions from famous designers around the world, “Shells of the Sun and Moon” became the winner. It was submitted by a team led by Professor Chen Keshi from the School of Urban Planning and Design, Peking University.

Artistry, originality and regional qualities are all coordinated in the building. The name “Shells of the Sun and Moon” originates from the Chinese translation of a native kind of shellfish named Amusium pleuronectes (Asia Moon Scallop) in Zhuhai. The functions of the opera house are combined with the design of double shells, which wrap a 1550-seat auditorium and a 550-seat multifunctional hall, respectively.

The rendering of the double-shell opera house

70% of the construction has now been finished. At present, the curtain walls of the “little shell” part are under implementation. The latest LED technology will be also employed on the shells to make the live performance seen even from outside, marking the new concept of “Public Opera House.” 


Thanks to the LEDs, the shell will display the live stage inside.

It is estimated that the opera house is going to hold its first show on New Year’s Day in 2016.


Written by: Yan Shengnan
Edited by: Choisum Kwok
Shenzhen Graduate School (Nanyan News)