Guangzhou Opera House / Zaha Hadid Architects

© Iwan Baan

Architects: Zaha Hadid Architects
Location: , China
Project Director: Woody K.T. Yao, 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 Jiang
Local Design Institute: Guangzhou Pearl River Foreign Investment Architectural Designing Institute (Guangzhou, China)
Structural Engineering: SHTK (Shanghai, China); Guangzhou Pearl River Foreign Investment Architectural Designing Institute
Façade Engineering: KGE Engineering (Zhuhai, China)
Building Services: Guangzhou Pearl River Foreign Investment Architectural Designing Institute (Guangzhou, China)
Acoustic Consultants: Marshall Day Acoustics (Melbourne, Australia)
Theater Consultants: ENFI (Beijing, China)
Lighting 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)
Main Contractor: China Construction Third Engineering Bureau Co. Ltd. (Guangdong, China)
Project Area: 70,000 sqm
Project Year: 2003-2010
Photographs: Iwan Baan

© Iwan Baan

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.

ground floor plan

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.

© Iwan Baan

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.

© Iwan Baan

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.

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Guangzhou Opera House / Zaha Hadid Architects" 01 Mar 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 17 Sep 2014. <>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    it is so captivating that i dont think anything short of genius will suffice, yo.

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    The erosion concept seems good and interesting, but way too much figurative in this case, although I really like the rehearsal room and the structure layout.

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    not a catalyst, I would say, since it is a part of a larger development headed by the government. and not next to a river either. and the thing has more steel in it than the bird’s nest in beijing.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I hope they’re thinking about new costumes for attendants to fit the spaceship style interior?

  5. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    I agree with Orlando, that skin is a superfluous treatment hiding the true building’s volumetry, a sort of flamboyant costume.

    • Thumb up Thumb down +1

      Yes, but a necessary one, considering that rectilinear spaces have to cohere to form the concept boulders.
      Form IS a part of function! In this case, one of the Major Functions was Form!! It’s the Urban Sculpture that you seem to be missing!!!

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    man.i wanted to see some green in it,i mean looks a bit foreign to the site thou it has the concept of nature in it.otherwise it is all cool.

  7. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    the modern age has lost all meaning of traditional relationships with nature. where it actually meant something. philosophically underpinned with ideas that essentially reject traditional frames of reference, all talk of the ‘river & pepples’ seem almost profoundly ludicrous. made with tons of steel & built by big egos & costing who knows what & not remotely environmentally conscious &…etc etc. all this just so we could have an ‘urban sculpture’?

  8. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    pictures of the actualy auditorium are breathtaking… archdaily doesn’t have them posted

  9. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    What software was used to develop the design and to draw the final construction documents?

    • Thumb up Thumb down -1

      shumacher probably designed it in rhino with sliders (the man is obsessed with parametrics), the construction drawings were produced with another BIM software probably Revit but I wouldnt bet on it, knowing these starchitects, they generally use an inhouse programs

  10. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    This skulpural iconice architectur is overe.
    iconic beakons detached fron there enviromet are so 1997-2005e. The lasre of the jedies

  11. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    Fascinating textures and surfaces, but I don’t agree with this kind of “disguised” architecture where innovative skin hides a conventional and standard plan

  12. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Tôi rất tự ngưỡng mộ phong cách thiết kế của Zaha…!
    Những thiết kế cho ta cái nhìn khác về kết cấu và sự tiến hóa đến dần với tự nhiên hơn.

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