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Let the shows begin


1:54 pm
May 8, 2010



posts 215

Let the shows begin 

larger "twin boulder" of the Guangzhou Center for the Performing Arts
houses a 1,800-seat theater. photos provided to China Daily

Let the shows begin

controversial Guangzhou Center for the Performing Arts by British Zaha

There were some who said it could never be
built, but after seven years in the making, Guangzhou Center for the
Performing Arts has raised the curtain for its debut performance. Chen
Jie reports

Inspired by the boulders in the Pearl River
(Zhujiang River) that runs through the city of Guangzhou, the British
Zaha Hadid Architects won the bid to design the Guangzhou Opera House
with its "twin boulder" design in November 2002.

Over the last seven years, the twin
buildings, one white and one black, have taken shape in Zhujiang

Now the unique venue, which has changed its
name to the Guangzhou Center for the Performing Arts, and which cost
1.38 billion yuan ($202 million), finally raised the curtain on Thursday
evening with its debut performance, Puccini's opera Turandot.

The origins of the Guangzhou Center for the
Performing Arts can be traced back to 1987, when the municipal
government decided to develop a new city district on the northern bank
of the Pearl River in order to alleviate the pressure on the city caused
by a growing population.

Around the same time a Western consul in
Guangzhou complained that such a big city did not have a nice theater or
concert hall. The government decided to build an opera house in the new
area, since they thought a prestigious opera house, like the Sydney
Opera House, or New York's Metropolitan Opera, would symbolize the
city's image as well as provide a world-class performing arts venue.

In 2002, the government released the design
bids for the Guangzhou Opera House to the public and let the citizens
choose what kind of opera house they would like. More than 20,000 people
went to the exhibition and voted online. Hadid's "twin boulder" design
won the most votes.

A folk song popular in Guangzhou asks: "Who
laid the boulder in the middle of the river? It was God's blessing on
the ancient city of Guangzhou."

Throughout Guangzhou's 2,000 year history,
the boulders, which have been washed smooth and pearl-like by the
rushing waves, have been adored by the locals and the Pearl River was
named after them.

Guangzhou Opera House formally started
construction in June 2003, but constructors soon found they faced a

Many of Hadid's avant-garde designs, such as
that for the Cardiff Bay Opera House, were never realized, as they were
considered too hard and expensive to deliver. Though that has never
deterred her from pursuing her unique designs.

"From the structural steel point of view,
it's more difficult than the Bird's Nest and CCTV's trouser leg
project," says Yao Mingqiu, general manager of Guangdong Guangjian
Project Management. "It's the most complex thing we've done. Not one
wall is vertical to the ground. Not one of the cross sections of the
facades of the buildings is the same as any other. Hadid's works feature
incredible curves that go beyond anything anyone else would imagine.
They look more like images in a dream or from the virtual world, and are
almost impossible to build in the real world."

Due to the many construction difficulties
and cost overruns, the Guangzhou Opera House started to receive a lot of

Some of the international press said that
Guangzhou was trying to build something utterly crazy, while others
stated that Hadid's weird design was meaningless, unless its purpose was
to make construction more difficult and expensive.


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