Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Move over Sydney - could the world have a new Opera House icon?

Photograph: Dan Chung for the Guardian
When many people think of opera houses, the Sydney Opera House generally comes to mind as the world's greatest Opera House icon. That may be changing.

Set in Haixinsha Square, a brand new stretch of south China's ever-expanding trading city, the Guangzhou Opera House rises sort of like a Phoenix from the ashes -- or as Jonathan Glancey of the says of British-Iraqi Zaha Hadid's design:
[T]he opera house takes the form of what appear to be two enormous pebbles that might have been washed up on the shores of the Pearl river, on which Guangzhou stands. Rough-shaped things sheathed in triangles of granite and glass protrusions, one houses the main auditorium while the smaller encloses a multipurpose performance space. There's no question, though, that the opera house is best experienced at night. As darkness falls and the foyers fill up with people, the building magically comes to life.
Photograph: Dan Chung for the Guardian
China's operatic gain was Great Britain's loss, however. In 1994, Hadid had designed a Cardiff Bay Opera House which, some say, would have become the most radical and significant building in Great Britain. Unfortunately, some stodgy Brits wouldn't hear of it and made sure, via tight-fisted control of the purse strings, that it wouldn't be built.

The Brits haven't written Hadid off completely, however. The Aquatics Center for the 2012 Olympics is her design. The £244m aquatics centre boasts a 160-metre roof and will house two 50-metre pools, a 25-metre diving pool and will be able to accommodate 17,500 spectators.

I think it's safe to say that Hadid certainly knows big buildings - but, she also knows more intimate venues as well. Hadid designed the pavilion for the mobile Chanel exhibit which visited New York a couple of years ago. See images of that project here.

For video coverage of the Guangzhou Opera House's opening night, hop on over to the Guardian's website. For more photos visit the gallery.

1 comment:

Larry Tenney said...

WOW! That rivals Frank Gehry's architecture as well! THANKs for exposing us to this beauty!

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