Tuesday, June 24, 2008

015. A Night at the Opera

Dubai Opera House

Hadid's Opera House in Dubai is the first true architecture of the 21st Century. Digital. Sleek. Perfect. So why build it?

That most celebrated of building types, the Opera House has given us culture barns such as La Scala in Milan, the Beaux Art Paris Opera, and of course Utzon's masterpiece in Sydney. If Sydney Opera House was the iconic building of the 20th Century, perhaps Hadid's Dubai Opera House might be the definitive work of this.

Dubai Opera House

Dubai Opera House

It is the culimination of the proceses her practice has been exploring throgh projects such as the Phaeno Centre, the BMW building, and the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Rome. Traditional architectural elements are dissolved, the arrangement of spaces determined by the composition. Form follows function is an antiquated concept these days, but here function is a mere conceit. Form follows more form.

Form rides everything is where parametric modelling leads - an aesthetic darwinism of evolved appearances. You can see it in almost every project to come form the DRL at the AA, the farm team for Zaha Hadid Architects, and where Patrik Schumacher teaches.

With this project, walls and roof are united into a sleek 'hull', transformed by parametric process which warped slice and skew the form into a sensuous, sinuous form that rises and twists it's way across the dunes.

The sheer beauty of the renderings is breathtaking. I want to inhabit its spaces (virtually). I want to fly through it. I want to explore its surface, its textures and materials. But I have no intention of visiting it.

Dubai Opera House


The only reason to build it is to prove it is buildable, that the building can capture the essence of the renderings.

But the reality will never live up to the beauty of the proposals. So why bother?

The future of architecture is not Dubai, but Dezeen.

Dubai Opera House

Dubai Opera House

Dubai Opera House

7 comments:

john said...

you say: "If Sydney Opera House was the iconic building of the 20th Century, perhaps Hadid's Dubai Opera House might be the definitive work of this."

how is that even possible? we haven't even progressed a full decade into this century - aren't you setting the bar a little low for the next 92 years?

...or do you know something we don't?? (cue Jaws theme)

it does look nice though - and why not build it? why not let it take it's place with the other buildings of this type - buildings that push the technology of building up a notch or two for the future architects and designers to chew on...

love the blog!
j...

Kosmograd said...

I only said might! And perhaps! That seems more than vague enough, borderline wishy-washy.

Why not build it?

- Because the reality will never live up where my imagination will take it.

- Because more people will see it online and in magazines than will ever visit it. Modern architecture is defined by it's mediation, not by it's built form.

- Because the cultural paradox of building an opera house in the Emirates will overwhelm any attempt to make any sense of what might get built.

I can't help thinking about a Retief story by Keith Laumer called Pime Doesn't Cray when thinking about this kind of cultural imperialism. The paradox in the Gulf is that the Emirates are bankrolling it themselves.

Glad you're enjoying the blog!

bob tomorrowland said...

You wrote: "Modern architecture is defined by it's mediation, not by it's built form."

I've heard that architects design for JPG these days, in the sense that they're building for viral legacy, designing it for the carrier, not the space. Anti-space.

Also: perhaps the "cultural paradox" you see in the project is caused by your associations with the word "opera"? I doubt that operas would be the primary form performed in the structure. "Opera house" is a taxonomical term of art more than anything else. The Sydney Opera House stages "operas" just a fraction of the time:

www.sydneyoperahouse.com

I say build it :)

Good post. Delicious images. Keep it coming.

Anonymous said...

just what we need. another hadid building that will be deemed unusable 2 weeks after completion. hadid, like gehry, builds amazing inhabitable sculptures. however, architecture demands much more that awe-inspiring spaces. what would happen if we tried to stick an opera house inside one of serra's torqued ellipses? see image above.

Zahaha Did said...

Because the reality will never live up where my imagination will take it.

Are we now to measure things against you? I thought the Renaissance ended sometime ago.


Because more people will see it online and in magazines than will ever visit it. Modern architecture is defined by it's mediation, not by it's built form.

I think you need to ween yourself of Dezeen. You'll be a better designer for it.


Because the cultural paradox of building an opera house in the Emirates will overwhelm any attempt to make any sense of what might get built.

How pseudo-Orientalist! So the Emirates will not "get" opera and opera architecture because, what...they're Muslims? As if Islamic society's towering cultural achievement over the past centuries haven't acculterated itself for *gasp* art. And as if earlier cultural exhanges, again reaching far back than, oh, let's say modern architecture, with other cultural traditions somehow resulted in some paradoxical time-space implosion, resulting in complete social collapse instead of informing and in some cases invigorating Islamic cultural traditions.

Again, and I beg of you, stop reading Dezeen.

Kosmograd said...

Thanks for the coments. Give up reading Dezeen? Does one actually read Dezeen, or do the images just kind of wash over you like some context-free architectural bubble-bath?

Not sure what the accusations of pseudo-Orientalism signify. But given that Islamic culture has practically no history of Opera, it's an alien building type, as perverse as building a baseball stadium might be. Is Dubai content building itself a Western high-art themepark? Where is the celebration of Islamic culture and art?

Mark Ellery said...

these sort of digital visualisations make me feel sick, they are not real architecture they are just pretty pictures! As for Dubai - hell on earth

http://boidus.co.uk