Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Guangzhou's new opera House Zaha Hadid

Zaha Hadid, the visionary architect at least gets recognition - in South China. Read about her stunning new opera house in Guangzhou (Canton) on the banks of the Pearl River. The building seems to curve sinuously, moving and reaching out. Imagine when it's full of people and sounds. (Cantonese talk max volume.)  Read Jonathan Glancey's article here with video and pics.

"....... this was never going to be an ordinary commission. The main building comprises a freestanding concrete auditorium set within an audacious granite and glass-clad steel frame. The exposed frame is a stunning thing, a kind of giant spider's web protruding in several unlikely directions. It seems to challenge the laws not just of conventional geometry, but of gravity itself." (More about the design in the artidle)
It "feels" vibrant, like China itself. The Hong Kong Cultural Centre, designed in the 1970's, was adventurous for its time, but the new Guangzhou house seems world class. There are plans to evolve the world's biggest metropolis in the region, merging all the cities between Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Macau and Guangzhou,. Thus the new opera house ia a viable project, serving a hundred million people. Indeed, with several major houses in China (Hong Kong, Shanghai and Guangzhou) international tours will make more financial sense. Guangzhou's main fare won't be western opera, as Glancey suggests, but Cantonese and other Chinese opera, and all kinds of concerts, much like Hong Kong where there's a  a more flexible attitude to genres than in the west. So no problem about the waterfront,  Mr Glancey. They won't be doing Peter Grimes too often.

Interesting that it takes a place like China to have the vision to commission. Ten years ago, Hadid planned something very similiar for Cardiff but it was blocked, as Glancey says by "an alliance of narrow-minded politicians, peevish commentators and assorted dullards holding the Lottery purse strings". The same negative mentality that pervades much of British society and not just the arts.  Give this nation greatness and it responds resentfully like Victor Meldrew (old curmudgeon on TV). It takes no brains whatsoever to figure why the Germans  (and Chinese) do it better. (sometimes).  
Read about Xenakis Philips Pavilion HERE about Renzo Piano's Shard in London HERE.

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