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On The Ground: Guangzhou Opera House

WAN's Guangzhou reporter Daizhou reviews Zaha Hadid's freshly completed project, Guangzhou Opera House following a press preview of the architect's first completed project in China.

Zaha Hadid has celebrated the culmination of her first project in China, with the city of Guangzhou offering the flamboyant designer a platform from which she can achieve her architectural ideal. The completion of Guangzhou Opera House has added serious substance to the architect’s already sterling reputation. In order to show her deep appreciation for all the commitment and generous support which led to the realisation of this innovative landmark, Hadid conducted an international architectural review event this past weekend.

At 6pm on Friday 25th February, a throng of journalists and architecture professionals both domestic and foreign came


together for a cocktail party in the lobby of the Opera House, speaking in glowing terms of Hadid’s success. At the completion of the project, the designer’s impact in the architectural arena in China has strengthened, providing additional opportunities for Hadid to work in the region. Major television and trade media representatives from home and away were able to interview the architect throughout the cocktail party, although her time was largely focused on the Chinese media.

After the cocktail party, the honoured guest, architects, reporters and students of architectural academies made their way to the central hall for a performance of UK Choreographer Akram Khan’s latest masterpiece, Vertical Road. The spectacular dancing and acousto-optic effects drew a prolonged round of applause from the audience which lasted for several minutes; a successful performance offset by world class design. The first opera house without reflection boards, Guangzhou Opera House has become a milestone in performance venue composition.

The main focus on Saturday 26th February was a simple introduction to the design given by Hadid herself; the audience was evidently deeply moved by the design, which compresses various architectural concepts. Hadid’s speech exemplified her intense passion for both early and current works, and shone a light on the forms of nature that inspired her, such as rivers, stones and bubbles.

This said, not every element of the Opera House is perfect. Firstly, the limitations of the site and high-rise buildings that


surround it have a detrimental effect on one’s appreciation of the design; secondly, the quantities of construction and stunted design development have led to some imperfect details; and finally, the cost of the building is extreme. However the effect the building can have on one’s emotions is huge, it challenges generic architectural concepts and shows the boundless possibilities of architectural space and technique.

Projects by Zaha Hadid Architects are rapidly gaining approval from the people of China, whilst presenting a great challenge for Chinese architects. With the steady development of the Chinese economy, large numbers of projects provide an ample platform from which designers can launch or enhance their careers. The architectural market will also attract more and more foreign architects to showcase their talents on Chinese soil, and the competition between differing cultures will generate a dramatic increase in world class architecture as demonstrated here by Zaha Hadid.

WAN Reporter



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