Overlooking the Pearl River the Guangzhou Opera House is at the heart of Guangzhou’s cultural sites development. Adopting state of the art technology in its design and construction it will be a lasting monument to the New Millennium, confirming Guangzhou as one of Asia’s cultural centres. Its unique twin boulder design will enhance urban function by opening access to the riverside and dock areas and creating a new dialogue with the emerging new town.
Like pebbles in a stream smoothed by erosion, the Guangzhou Opera House sits in perfect harmony with its riverside location. The Opera House is at the heart of Guangzhou’s cultural development. Its unique twin-boulder design enhances the city by opening it to the Pearl River, unifying the adjacent cultural buildings with the towers of international finance in Guangzhou’s Zhujiang new town.
In Chinese culture, certain analogical thinking makes sense and the idea of pebbles and rocks on the banks of a stream is actually very meaningful for a project located next to the Pearl River. As designers, this is more of a technique for us to articulate the relationship of an object within a landscape; describing how the design is informed by its context. So when designing the building, we were not thinking so much of metaphor, but more in terms of analogy – the landscape analogy – where features of a natural landscape are expressed within the architecture. For example, the smooth transitions between territories and zones, and smooth transitions between levels.
The 1,800-seat auditorium of the Opera House houses the very latest acoustic technology, and the smaller 400-seat multifunction hall is designed for performance art, opera and concerts in the round.
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.
Fold lines in this landscape define territories and zones within the Opera House, cutting dramatic interior and exterior canyons for circulation, lobbies and cafes, and allowing natural light to penetrate deep into the building. Smooth transitions between disparate elements and different levels continue this landscape analogy. Custom moulded glass-fibre reinforced gypsum (GFRC) units have been used for the interior of the auditorium to continue the architectural language of fluidity and seamlessness.
The exterior is clad in triangular granite sections which correspond with the structure. A charcoal-colored granite with a rough texture is used on the larger of the two ‘twin boulders’ that house the main auditorium, and a lighter white color is used on the smaller structure that houses the multi-function hall. These textured finishes reinforce the over design concept of the project as boulders, eroded by water, on the banks of a stream – a continuation of our architectural language of landscape formations and natural systems. Tessellated triangular glass sections emphasize the crystalline nature of the design and open up the public areas of the Opera House
The Guangzhou Opera House has been the catalyst for the development of cultural facilities in the city including new museums, library and archive. The Opera House design is the latest realization of Zaha Hadid Architects’ unique exploration of contextual urban relationships, combining the cultural traditions that have shaped Guangzhou’s history, with the ambition and optimism that will create its future.
Architects: Zaha Hadid Architects
Client: The Guangzhou Municipal Office
Design: Zaha Hadid
Project Director:Woody K.T. Yao and Patrik Schumacher
Project Leader: Simon Yu
Project Team: Jason Guo, Yang Jingwen, Long Jiang, Ta-Kang Hsu, Yi- Ching Liu, Zhi Wang, Christine Chow, Cyril Shing, Filippo Innocenti, Lourdes Sanchez, Hinki Kwong, Junkai Jian
Local Design: Institute Guangzhou Pearl River Foreign Investment Architectural Designing Institute (Guangzhou, China) Structural Engineers: SHTK (Shanghai, China) Guangzhou Pearl River Foreign Investment Architectural Designing Institute
Facade Engineering: KGE Engineering (Zhuhai, China)
Building Services: Guangzhou Pearl River Foreign Investment Architectural Designing Institute (Guangzhou, China)
Acoustic Consultants: Marshall Day Acoustics (Melbourne, Australia)
Theatre Consultant: ENFI (Beijing, China)
Lighting Design Consultant: Beijing Light & View (Beijing, China)
Project Management: Guangzhou Municipal Construction Group Co. Ltd. (Guangzhou, China)
Construction Management: Guangzhou Construction Engineering Supervision Co. Ltd. (Guangzhou, China)
Cost Consultant: Guangzhou Jiancheng Engineering Costing Consultant Office Ltd. (Guangzhou, China)
Principal Contractor: China Construction Third Engineering Bureau Co. Ltd. (Guangdong, China)