“Like pebbles in a stream smoothed by erosion, the Guangzhou Opera House is in perfect harmony with its riverside location.”

Sydney Opera House, move over. Anyone interested in the zeitgeist of buzz worthy of the 21st-century building feats, would agree that Zaha Hadid’s design of the Opera House in Guangzhou, China, is an architectural masterstroke in every sense of the way. Without hi-spec, flexible materials it would have been impossible to realise her design vision.

A new dialogue
With panoramic views of the city’s Pearl River, this state-of-the-art monument is located at the foot of Zhujiang Boulevard opposite the Guangdong Provincial Museum and is surrounded by Guangzhou’s cultural sites. Its contoured profile, unique twin-boulder design and promenade enhance the urban interplay of this cultural and economic hub. It allows access to the riverside and dock areas and creates a new dialogue with the ever-evolving precinct.

Hi-tech design
Adopting state-of-the-art technology, this unique ode to the new millennium is clad with a mixture of glass and granite panels. Black granite with a flamed or rough-textured finish was used on the upper parts of the building to reinforce the idea of a pebble washed up on the river bank.

The design evolved from the concepts of a natural landscape and the fascinating interplay between architecture and nature, engaging with the principles of erosion, geology and topography. The Guangzhou Opera House design has been particularly influenced by river valleys – and the way in which they are transformed by erosion.

Pure genius. If music be the food of love, play on.

Key characteristics

  • One enters the building through an approach promenade cut into the landscape.
  • Custom-molded fibreglass-reinforced gypsum (CFRG) units have been used for the interior of the auditorium to continue the architectural language of fluidity and seamlessness.
  • Circulation through the interior of the building is guided by the spine and structural frame. The many levels provide views into the main atrium space, giving a sense of connection and orientation within the building.
  • The walls of the asymmetrical 1 800-seat grand theatre are bellowing ribbons of gold, dotted with fragmented lights.
  • Fold lines in this landscape define territories and zones within the Opera House, cutting dramatic interior and exterior canyons for circulation, lobbies and cafés, and allowing natural light to penetrate deep into the building.
  • Smooth transitions between disparate elements and different levels continue this landscape analogy.

Full acknowledgement and thanks are given to www.archdaily.com, www.zaha-hadid.com and www.dezeen.com for providing the information to write this article.