She may have lost out in the Welsh capital but this weekend Zaha Hadid celebrated the completion of Guangzhou Opera House – the colourful architect’s first completed project in China. Estimated to have cost 1bn Yuan, the 70,000 sq m cultural centre for the Guangzhou Municipal Government takes pride of place next to Wilkinson Eyre’s Guangzhou International Finance Centre.
Inspired by the organic forms of two fused boulders, the completed Opera House is almost identical to the renderings released by Zaha Hadid Architects in 2003. Slotting easily into place on the Pearl River, the low-rise sculptural construction presents a ‘unified vision of civic and cultural buildings on a waterfront setting’.
The construction process hasn’t been easy however, as the site succumbed to a fire on 9th May 2010 only months after OMA’s TVCC Building caught alight during a fireworks display in February. Local media suggested that the cause of the fire was related to the welding of the steel building frame however this was never confirmed by the practice.
Now complete, the Guangzhou Opera House hosted an architectural review event this past weekend, where architects, reporters and design students joined Hadid for the venue’s first performance - British Choreographer Akram Khan’s Vertical Road. Read a firsthand report from WAN’s Guangzhou Correspondent here.
With a 1,800-seat Grand Theatre, voluminous entrance lobby and lounge, multifunctional hall, and various auxiliary facilities and support areas, Guangzhou Opera House is the largest performance centre in South China and the third biggest theatre in the entire nation, slipping in behind Beijing’s National Theatre and Shanghai’s Grand Theatre.
Hadid’s signature sculptural style remains intact in her first Chinese project, as the protective form rises on the waterfront with abstract projections and acute angles softened by natural influences. Internally a repetitive geometric pattern skims the walls, as sharp-edged windows allow streams of sunlight to flood the cavernous lobby.