Revisting the iconic Ghana National Theatre by CCTN Design

Over a decade ago I had the pleasure of visiting this building on a study trip to Ghana. It was a joy to see the ins and outs of the complex, make some sketches (which have since disappeared) and interact with the architecture.

As such, you can imagine my surprise to come across it in this archdaily post, with a fair amount of the building’s original design drawings. For a project that was completed in the early 90’s, it stands strong on the landscape of the ever changing city and remains a bold landmark.

The Ghana National Theatre is located at the intersection of Accra’s main thoroughfares. The National Theatre comprises 1500 seats in its auditorium, an exhibition hall, a rehearsal hall, and an open-air theater.

The design of the structure was inspired by the fiery passion of African arts: abstract mosaic murals; local dances with crisp rhythms and powerful movements; and sculptures evoking power and feeling. The project made use of three square blocks, rotated, bent, and deconstructed, to build up an architectural image with a wild sense of power, delicate yet romantic, with the interior space and the exterior form being built in a unified pattern. As a structure clearly influenced by the regional culture, the completed National Theatre became the landmark building of Accra City, thanks to its unique artistic shape. It was not just recognized and celebrated by the people of Ghana but was also used as a decorative pattern on the cedi, Ghana’s paper currency.

Acclaimed by architects around the world, the project was also selected to form the collection of “20th-Century World Architecture,” compiled by the Union of International Architects (UIA).

Project Details

  • Architects: CCTN Design
  • Location: Accra, Ghana
  • Architect in Charge: Cheng Taining
  • Area: 118403.0 ft2
  • Project Year: 1992
  • Photographs: Julien Lanoo
  • Collaborators: Ye Xianghan, Shen Zhihan, Jiang Shuxian
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