Occasionally, readers accuse Green Prophet writers of being killjoys. Israel finds the Leviathan gas field and throws the party of the century, but we hang our heads, certain of the environmental and social destruction that will follow. And when Zaha Hadid is commissioned to do another project, I look for my Prozac.
Each of the Iraqi architect’s buildings revolutionize the field, of that there is no question. But they are expensive, resource intensive, and therefore completely irresponsible. In a country where tens of millions of people live below the poverty line, the almost complete Guangzhou Opera House rises like a robber.
Like anyone, I love a good show, and realize that culture is an essential component of any healthy society. But gone are the days when culture was a part of daily life, when whole villages gathered to elevate their collective consciousness.
Now in order to experience traditional dance or progressive theatrics, we have to make (at least) a US$15 million dollar investment. At least that’s what modern society would have you think.
Zaha’s 70,000 square meter Grand Theatre, commissioned by the Guanzhoung Municipality, will hold 1800 cultural enthusiasts.
I’d be willing to wager that the city’s poor will never cross the threshold. Modern culture, then, is reserved for the rich, while the shining Zaha takes another step up the twin ladder of ambition and environmental destruction.
This particular project pretends to align with nature, designed as it is to look like pebbles overlooking the Pearl River, visible from the inside through transparent glass walls. But the concrete and steel used in construction instead in a malefic effect.
Give me a small theater with simple acoustics and folksy, down-to-earth performances. Give me Vertigo.
And then, for architecture that makes a difference, give me Studied Impact, whose buildings create harmony with nature.
Zaha’s Lamborghini buildings are too rich for my blood.
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