The Guangzhou Municipal Government’s brief for a new opera house was ambitious: the building had to be able to host Chinese and Western operas of the highest caliber, as well as be a welcoming civic center, open and accessible to all. Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) delivered with two boulders of granite and glass set on plazas that mimic rippling sand.
ZHA’s 70,000-square-meter Guangzhou Opera House, which was completed in 2010, connects the city to the Pearl River at a site that was primarily used by the fishing industry and is now evolving to become a center for commerce and culture. The Opera House is helping to pave the way by featuring performances that are attracting a new and younger audience and drawing crowds of tourists and locals to its terraces. “On my visit earlier this year, it was rewarding to see how popular these public spaces have become with the people of Guangzhou,” says Simon Yu, the project architect.