Zaha Hadid’s Guangzhou Opera House

An engaging, playful, and theatrical building.

By Edwin Heathcote

Guangzhou Opera House. Click image to expand.Guangzhou Opera House

When construction began on Guangzhou Opera House in 2005, the site was surrounded by farmland. As the building rose, so did the city around it. Guangzhou, in the sprawling industrial Pearl River Delta, had outgrown its traditional centre (based around the old city of Canton) and was expanding into Pearl River New City. It has since grown so fast and so far that, standing on top of any of the new Central Business District’s skyscrapers, the dense grey grid of the city spreads out on all sides as far as the eye can see until it is subsumed in the beige mist of pollution and cement dust from which it is still forming.

Incredibly, nothing in this huge new section of skyscraper city is more than five years old. It culminates in a cluster of arts buildings at the river’s edge that are all nearing completion – a library, a museum and Zaha Hadid‘s extraordinary $209 million. This was officially opened last month, although it has been hosting performances since a soft opening in May last year.

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