Zaha Hadid’s Guangzhou Opera House – Symbol Of A Southern City


Guangzhou Opera House


Mao had allegedly said that women held up half the sky. True or not, well, he (and China) needed workers!

One thing is for sure (I think) – Zaha Hadid has held up at least one half of Guangzhou’s skyline!

Hugging a knoll on a spectacular site on the bank of Zhugiang (Pearl River), Hadid’s opera house contributes to the skyline without even reaching for it.

More horizontal than vertical, a stark contrast to the surrounding (generally) unremarkable highrises, Hadid’s architecture is a mastery of geometry and flow, solid and void: Expanses of triangular panels of  glass or granite grace the facade, with  walls meeting at rounded corners. Viewed from the access path below,  it suggested to me a giant bird poised  to take off – with Hadid’s signature aplomb and dynamism. *

Standing apart from so much of today’s architecture looking digital and rigid, Hadid’s design always retains an organic feel, a sense of the touch of a human hand, like calligraphy. Perhaps it’s not surprising that her first interest had been biology, and had wanted to study medicine.

She replied simply: biology, when I had asked her a few years ago in London what inspired her design.


5/6/2016    *    Regarding my giant bird metaphor here. A friend pointed out to me a  famous literary tit-for-tat. A Cantonese poet went to Beijing to make his name and was greeted with a snub: “Eastern bird flying west with no place to land – there being all phoenixes [feng-huang].”  He retorted: “Southern unicorn [qilin] promenading north – all mountain beasts bowing in respect.”  (This is not unlike Los Angeles artists going to New York in the 1960s).

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