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Historically, China is no stranger to creating unique structures that make you go ‘wow’ – just take a look at the Great Wall and Forbidden City. Today, the country shows no sign of slowing down when it comes to constructing never-before-seen buildings. Here are some of China’s latest and greatest architectural feats…
HARBIN OPERA HOUSE - Harbin province

From afar, the stark white 79,000-squaremetre Harbin Opera House can easily be mistaken for an extension of the surrounding wetlands, waterways, and snowy terrain. Contemporary in its design, the venue exudes a zen aesthetic with sleek white walls, atmospheric skylights and natural timbers laying the foundations for award-winning interiors. A stairwell spiralling around the exterior leads up to a viewing platform, enabling visitors to explore every inch of the opera house and indoor gardens.

Situated on Harbin’s Cultural Island surrounding the city’s Songhua River, the sinuous opera house is the focal point of the precinct. Ma Yansong, founding principal of the Beijing-based MAD architectural firm, is responsible for designing the structure, with the hope the venue will inspire a more natural approach to architecture in densely populated cities like Harbin, which is home to 3.4 million people.

Harbin Opera House offers entry to patrons attending a performance, and ticket prices start from AUD $30 (approx.). It is open to visitors who are attending a show and curious to see the architectural beauty of the venue. Harbin Opera House is best admired in the summer months, as snow blankets the structure over winter. 

GUANGZHOU OPERA HOUSE - Guangzhou province
The Guangzhou Opera House is the city’s flagship venue for opera performances. Unlike traditional Western opera houses, the 1880-seat concrete auditorium is asymmetrical with striking angles that would, in theory, destroy the acoustics of the space. Yet this is far from the case; extensive design research and technology has assisted in creating a real depth to the natural acoustics. The structure rises and falls at the foot of Zhujiang Boulevard, in Haixinsha Square, confirming Guangzhou as one of Asia’s cultural centres. The late and great Iraqi-born, UK-based architect Zaha Hadid designed the Opera House, which was shaped to resemble two pebbles on the bank of the surrounding Pearl River. It’s free to enter the Opera House, but it will cost you if you’d like to see a show.
Occupying an impressive 33,700 square metres of space, Tianjin Binhai Library is a sight to behold, with a futuristic grandeur that instantly justifies the sheer extent of worldwide media attention it has gained since opening its glass doors in 2017. You’ll find the avant-garde library 45 kilometres east of the city centre. The interior features a luminous spherical auditorium and floorto- ceiling cascading bookcases. The library is designed to store up to 1.35 million books, but currently holds 200,000, the vast majority of which sit on regular bookshelves in the auditorium.

Ark of Light is currently used as the sales centre of LongFor Waterfront City. Later, it will become a city hall that is open to the public, and in which commercial practice and art exhibitions will be carried out aiming to represent the future fast-paced city life in Chongqing. 

Taking the inspiration of “Ark of Light, Stone of Memory,” the architects have converted natural and cultural features of the city and combined them with contemporary architectural methods to deliver a new image of Chongqing. The futuristic, avant-garde form uses aluminium, stainless steel, and mirrors. 

The structure can be found at the commercial core of Lijia new area, on the riverbank of Jialing River and the new centre of Chongqing. The 2017 project has been led by experienced architectural firm Shanghai Tianhua Architecture Planning & Engineering, which was also responsible for the breathtaking Nanchang Sinic Center. 

Members of the public will be welcome to explore and use the city hall’s communal facilities at no charge. Once transformed into a city hall, Ark of Light will be the ultimate arts and cultural scene, breathing life into the business district of Chongqing.