Design + Architecture

The Visionaries

by Suzanne Wales


On the horizon: Opera House, Guangzhou

Hadid's dramatic flourishes lend well to the theater (she designed the set for the Pet Shop Boys' 1999–2000 tour). Her tour de force so far is the Guangzhou Opera House in China, currently under construction and due for completion at the end of 2008. This project shows her ongoing fascination with dunelike formations, a legacy of her frequent trips to the marshlands of Southern Iraq as a young girl. The opera house, which will hold 1,800 audience members, could have landed from another galaxy, with two undulating "boulders" that are bathed in bold colors, evoking the high drama of Chinese opera. This world-class building will not only be a source of pride for one of China's less-familiar metropolises (the "Bilbao Effect" again), it's also a counterblow for Hadid. Twelve years ago her design for an Opera House in Cardiff was famously rejected in an episode that reeked of administrative (and creative) cold feet. Now that her singular vision is taking shape in buildings around the world, her revenge must taste pretty sweet.

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