At the beginning of 1999, the Chinese authorities extended an invitation to tender architectural proposals for this attractive and ambitious project. The plan was to create a huge opera house in the heart of the metropolis, just a stone's throw from the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. French architect Paul Andreu won the competition with his proposal of a giant shellfish floating like a protective canopy in an artificial lake. The opera house is accessible from two sides through an underwater glass tunnel. At the end of this island of culture, surrounded by a park, rises a gold-glittering monolith. This gigantic cylinder – clad in a golden veil – harbors the opera in its interior.