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Xiamen Cultural Complex in China. Bridges connect to land with white sweeping multipurpose event center and stadium seating
Xiamen Cultural Complex

Opera House on the Sea

Project Location

Xiamen, China


1,000,000 SF


Concept Design


Chicago Athenaeum American Architecture Award, 2022

The East Coast New Town is a key area outside of Xiamen Island that plays a crucial role in building Xiamen into an international, modern city of quality and beauty. The Xiamen Cultural Complex is designed to provide high end cultural activities to local citizens and tourists, filling the blank of tourism products that Xiamen has to offer.

The competition design contains a series of buildings whose organic forms are based on the concept of tides and water flow. Xiamen is a coastal city with strong tidal movement, which also represents a pioneering spirit inherited from Min’nan culture and history.

The complex contains three main parts: the Opera House on the Sea, the Xiamen Gallery, and commercial facilities including a theme hotel. The two sets of streamlined buildings, symmetrically situated on either side of the main platform, stage, and multi-purpose hall, organically flow into the main auditorium. Viewed from the sea, the collection of spaces is unified in form.

The main body of the 4,500-seat streamlined auditorium serves as the centerpiece of the building complex with the overall symmetry directing the visitor’s eye to the center of the Main Stage. The core, occupying the north-facing water interface of the plot, is designed as a dignified gesture, showing the new city to the world and creates a humanistic atmosphere for cultural feathers of the theater.

The North Auditorium, situated on a sea stage that represents a waterscape, is like a bright moon, floating on the water. The raised lake and the open water surfaces of the east and west streams merge into one, forming an open and shocking experience that truly reveals the vision of the sea stage. The design of the landscape flows through the building forms like the Xiamen tide. The surge is manifested artificially and naturally through the site, perfectly fused together forming a surging sea. The Landscape is surrounded by sea on all sides, and the field is surrounded by flowing light bands through the site.

This building complex will create an important atmospheric image and unique sightseeing experience for the people of Xiamen and visitors from all over the world.

Featured Video
A Symphony of Architecture and Nature

Explore the award-winning organic design that draws inspiration from the ocean tides along Xiamen’s coast. Observe how the Xiamen Cultural Complex seamlessly blends into its environment, forming a harmonious union with its surroundings.


American Architecture Award

Xiamen Cultural Complex in China. Bridges connect to land with white sweeping multipurpose event center and stadium seating
Opera House on the Sea Xiamen, China


The Chicago Athenaeum and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies

December 14, 2022

The Xiamen Cultural Complex was recognized by The Chicago Athenaeum with an American Architecture Award. The awards honor the best, new, significant buildings, landscape, and planning projects designed and/or built in the United States and abroad by American architects and planners practicing nationally and internationally.

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Elevating Design

CEO and Managing Principal Steven McKay, AIA, RIBA


CEO Steven McKay Shares a Passion for Design with designboom

This exclusive interview reveals McKay’s commitment to employee-ownership, the thrill of the design challenge, and the future of our firm. In the interview, the Xiamen Cultural Complex is shared as an example of how we are leading with design.

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