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Competition: Bao’an art complexes, Shenzhen

Bao’an District Government has launched two open international competitions for a pair of major arts complexes in Shenzhen (Deadline: 15 August)

The first contest seeks ‘innovative’ proposals to transform the district’s iconic Bao’an 1990 complex into a new library, cultural centre and concert hall.

The second contest will deliver a new Bao’an Public Culture & Art Centre – featuring a combined museum and art gallery – within the growing district’s waterfront zone nearby.



The Bao’an 1990 complex

According to the competition brief: ‘The “Bao’an 1990” buildings are important cultural buildings which were all completed and put into service in the 1990s.

‘This is a precious heritage loved by many people. The high-standard upgrading and reconstruction of “Bao’an 1990” not only guarantees the functional integrity of concentrated cultural facilities within the old urban district but will also improve their facilities and importance.’

Located at the junction of Xin’an 2nd Road and and Jian’an 1st Road – Bao’an 1990 currently features three landmark buildings.

Surrounding a large public plaza, the existing 8,047m² Bao’an Library, 9,903m² Bao’an Popular Culture and Art Museum and 9,430m² Xin’an Movie Theater will all be upgraded as part of the project.

Nearby landmarks with the old town area include the Yujingtai Living Quarters, Bao’an Middle School, Bao’an Science & Technology Museum, Bao’an Archives and the Eighth People’s Hospital.



The Bao’an 1990 complex

The new Bao’an Public Culture & Art Centre will meanwhile be constructed at the junction of Xinhu Road and the major Chuangye Road thoroughfare within the district’s central waterfront zone.

Nearby developments include the new home of Bao’an District Government, the Hongfa Centre commercial complex and the Delight Empire Dragon Court residential area.

Participating teams may apply for one or both of the prestigious projects which aim to boost cultural services within the major sub-district of Shenzhen.

The judging panel – which has yet to be announced – will feature 11 leading Chinese and international experts in urban planning, architecture, public art and museums.

In both contests the authors of two prize winning ‘optimal’ schemes will receive RMB 2 million each. Prizes worth RMB 0.5 million will also be awarded to two further ‘excellent’ schemes in each contest.

The two overall winners will be invited to negotiate for the design contracts which are expected to be worth around five per cent of the total construction budgets.

How to apply


The registration deadline is 5pm local time on 15 August and submissions must be completed by 31 October.

Contact details

Qingmiao He

Bao’an District Government

Shenzhen Municipal Government

Tel: +86 18617010717


Fax: +86 755 27802314

Visit the Bao’an 1990 complex regeneration contest website for more information

Visit the new Bao’an Public Culture & Art Centre contest website for more information

Everyman Theatre case study: Q&A with Steve Tompkins

The director of Haworth Tompkins discusses lessons learned regenerating the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool, England

Haworth Tompkins

Haworth Tompkins

Steve Tompkins

How did your Everyman Theatre project enhance facilities while respecting the cultural significance of the historic venue?

From the outset there was a shared commitment between the client and architect to balance the unquestionable need for renewal of the existing building against the deeply rooted communal loyalty towards the theatre as a Liverpool institution and a carrier of cultural memory. We examined the possibility of refurbishment in detail before deciding to rebuild. At the Everyman, the relationships between informality and sense of occasion, innovation and recognisable continuity, civic presence and collective ownership were all central conversations throughout the design evolution. We aimed for a building that would declare its social purpose and transform the theatrical capability of the organisation whilst being entirely recognisable as the much-loved Liverpool venue it had always been.

Liverpool, England

Liverpool, England

Source: Image by Philip Vile

Everyman Theatre by Haworth Tompkins

Which material techniques are available to architects seeking to achieve a similarly impressive impact?

There is no right or wrong means to achieve a given architectural end, but we have always enjoyed working with demotic materials rather than more precious fabric, because it allows our cultural buildings to establish a direct connection with the everyday experience of ordinary people, and to invite engagement through adaptation and progressive change as circumstances dictate. In the case of the Everyman we incorporated much of the demolished old building as recycled material. Many of our theatre buildings appear deliberately ‘unfinished’ so that successive productions can more easily establish specific aesthetic relationships with a more supple architecture. We imagine our buildings twenty years after completion - will they feel dated, dented and inflexible or will they have acquired the deep patina of dense inhabitation and continuous creative adaptation?

What considerations are important when regenerating a culturally-significant concert venue such as the Bao’an 1990?

Apart from the obvious technical and acoustic prerequisites, in our experience the most important consideration is to establish a genuine relationship of mutual trust between an enthusiastic, knowledgeable client and an architect who is prepared to invest in a deep understanding of the wider cultural landscape. Proper engagement with artists, cultural leaders and community representatives should be allowed to inform the design and enable the renewed venue to embed into the evolving socio-cultural context. The project is an opportunity not only to make extraordinary architecture but also to address the wider needs of civil society in the region.

Liverpool, England

Liverpool, England

Source: Image by Philip Vile

Everyman Theatre by Haworth Tompkins