A curvilinear concert hall clad in white aluminum panels, the newly opened Harbin Opera House looks more otherworldly than organic, a sinuous spaceship that recently touched down in northeastern China. According to Ma Yansong, principal of MAD Architects, which won the open competition to design the opera house and surrounding cultural island complex, the structure's curves serve as a contrast to the surrounding wetlands, "synergistically blending with the surrounding nature," which in itself stands out from the rows of squat buildings and rectangular towers going up in this rapidly growing and industrializing city. Wrapped in a swirl of glass and metal, the exterior and lobby of the 850,000-square-foot building give way to a 1,600-seat theater made from Manchurian Ash, filled with wooden forms that appear to have been eroded over time as opposed to engineered. Yansong, whose abstract proposal for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Chicago has drawn pointed reviews, previously worked for Zaha Hadid, and it's not too much of a stretch to imagine some of her style and approach may have served as an influence here; it's an observation Hadid herself isn't too shy to make. While Yansong's design in Harbin seems poised to become a local landmark, the 184-foot tall building also offers views from a rooftop observation deck.
∙ How the Lucas Museum Design Will Change Chicago's Lakefront [Curbed Chicago]
∙ How a Brooklyn Venue Rewrote the Rules for Concert Halls [Curbed]