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  Japanese architect Tadao Ando has been announced as the designer of Il Teatro, a planned performing arts center in Aljada, a megaproject described byUnited Arab Emirates–based developer Arada as both Sharjah’s largest “lifestyle community” and the largest overall development project in the emirate at 24 million square feet.

The 1995 Pritzker Prize laureate’s complex will be accordingly colossal, spread across 260,000 square feet and anchored by a 2,000-seat performance hall. Also set to include a gallery space and restaurant, Il Teatro’s varied programming—opera, theater, dance, film, ballet, concerts, and more—will spill out from the building and into a large multi-level plaza suspended above a large water feature; located directly opposite Il Teatro within the plaza will be an amphitheater for open-air performances. The future performing arts hub will be fused to the rest of Aljada’s nascent Naseej creative district via two lush urban parks—“green spines” per the developer—lined with cafés, artist studios, and spaces for additional cultural programming.

“I have designed the central structure of the building to be round like the Earth as I wanted to create a new world inside it that will attract not only local people but visitors from around the globe,” said Ando of the cylindrical structure, which will be realized in his signature cast-in-place concrete and feature a dramatic arched entry that establish a connection with the building’s interior and the adjacent plaza.

il teatro, sharjah.

Il Teatro's glazed arched entry is fronted by a sweeping “cultural plaza” and a sprawling water feature. Image by Tadao Ando Architect & Associates, courtesy Arada

Il Teatro, which is expected to be completed in 2027, is Ando’s second project in the UAE, following Dubai’s Armani Beach Residences at Palm Jumeirah, which was announced earlier this year (and is also an Arada-led project). Elie Mrad, the developer’s Chief Architectural Officer, praised Ando for his idiosyncratic style that “neatly incorporates a range of natural elements including stone, concrete, light and water, all of which combine to represent the beauty of simplicity.”

Decidedly less grounded in pared-back simplicity is the Zaha Hadid Architects–designed Central Hub, a water droplet–inspired entertainment and leisure complex planned for the heart of Aljada, not too far from the future Il Teatro site.

Outside of Sharjah, where the second edition of the emirate's triennial architecture exhibition is now underway, a considerably smaller-scale work by Ando, MPavilion 10, will debut at Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Gardens later this month on November 16. The annual pavilion commission is the autodidactic architect’s first project in Australia, and its unveiling will kick off a five-month-long summer art and design festival hosted by the temporary pavilion’s nonprofit benefactor, the Naomi Milgrom Foundation.