Zaha Hadid in Guangzhou

Speaking of Zaha Hadid, Here’s a few photos and a video of the recently-completed Guangzhou Opera House. I once heard a structural engineer criticize Zaha’s work, saying “conceptually, she can’t decide if she’s building crystals or water drops.” I was reminded of his critique while reading the project description for the Guangzhou Opera, which repeatedly refers to erosion. Can crystals erode?

However it was conceptualized, this is yet another ambitious project realized in China. In the video, you can hear Jonathan Glancey, architecture correspondent for the Guardian talk about the project using space metaphors, and mentioning the Cardiff Bay Opera House twice to Zaha as if it were the same project. She lets it slide the first time, but the second time seems a little annoyed saying “it’s a different project.”  Of course, Glancey realizes it’s a different project, writing:

Ah, yes, the Cardiff Bay Opera House. In 1994, Hadid had designed a magical theatre for the Welsh coast. It would have become the most radical and compelling building in Britain, but an alliance of narrow-minded politicians, peevish commentators and assorted dullards holding the Lottery purse strings ensured it was never built. More than a decade on, Hadid has built her opera house. Of course, it’s not the same design, yet the building embodies the spirit as well as something of the presence of the great theatre we could have had in Britain rather than here, 6,000 miles away.

Of the photos I’ve seen of the new building, I think the ceiling of the auditorium is the most spectacular. There are so  many lights recessed into the wavy surface that it looks more like a porous piece of driftwood filtering the light as it comes inside.


March 10, 2011 / By