The place we usually described as "The Egg", is The National Centre Theatre or Chinese National Centre for the Performing Arts - an opera house in Beijing, People’s Republic of China. It is said to look like an egg floating on water, or a water drop. The National Centre Theatre is an ellipsoid dome of titanium and glass surrounded by an artificial lake, seats 5,452 people in three halls and is almost 12,000 m² in size. It is designed by French architect Paul Andreu. It was designed as an iconic feature, something that would be immediately recognizable. Construction starts in December 2001 and the inaugural concerts are held in December 2007.
The dome measures 212 meters in east-west direction, 144 meters in north-south direction, and is 46 meters high. The main entrance is at the north side. Guests arrive in the building after walking through a hallway that goes underneath the lake. The titanium shell is broken by a glass curtain in north-south direction that gradually widens from top to bottom.
The National centre Theatre is located to the west of Tiananmen Square and the Great Hall of the People, and near the Forbidden City. Also, it is combined with the theatre’s futuristic design, created considerable controversy. Paul Andreu countered that although there is indeed value in ancient traditional Chinese architecture, Beijing must also include modern architecture, as the capital of the country and an international city of great importance. His design, with large open space, water, trees, was specially designed to complement the red walls of ancient buildings and the Great Hall of the People, in order to melt into the surroundings as opposed to standing out against them.
The government sanctioned the study completed in 2004 by the Research Academy of Economic & Social Development of Northeast University of Finance and Economics, of the upkeep costs of the building were publicized in domestic Chinese media.
The water and electricity bills and the cleaning cost for the external surface would be at least tens of millions CNY, and with other maintenance cost, the total could easily exceed one billion CNY. Therefore, at least 80% of the annual operational costs must be subsidized by the government for at least the first three years after the opening, and for the rest of its operational life, at least 60% of the annual operational cost must be subsidized by the government.
The director of the art committee of the National Centre for the Performing Arts and the standing committee member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Wu Zuqiang and the publicist & deputy director of the National Centre for the Performing Arts Deng Yijiang have announced that 70% of the tickets would be sold at low price for ordinary citizens, while 10% of the tickets would be sold at relatively expensive prices for separate market segments, and the 60% of annual operational cost needed to be subsidized by the government would be divided between the central government and the Beijing municipal government.