iwan baan documents MAD's snow-covered harbin opera house iwan baan documents MAD's snow-covered harbin opera house
apr 28, 2016

iwan baan documents MAD's snow-covered harbin opera house

iwan baan documents MAD’s snow-covered harbin opera house
image © iwan baan

 

 

 

MAD architects has released a new series of photos documenting its harbin opera house in northeast china. taken by acclaimed architectural photographer iwan baan, the images were taken during the region’s extremely harsh winter, where temperatures can fall as low as -30°C (-22°F). the photos form part a new series of images featuring local residents alongside visitors to the sinuous structure. ‘harbin is very cold for the most of the year, so I envisioned a building that would blend into the winter landscape as a white snow dune arising from the wetlands,’ says ma yansong, principal architect and founder of MAD architects. ‘opera design normally focuses on internal space, but here we had to treat the building as part of its natural environment — one outside the urban context.’

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the opera house is situated along the songhua river and is surrounded by wetland landscape
image © iwan baan

 

 

 

iwan baan sought to capture the transformative quality of the opera house during the city’s harsh winter months — the building’s sculptural form and white aluminum cladding echoes the adjacent frozen riverbank. in the images, the photographer captures tourists, dog walkers, and local ice fishers who frequent the public spaces of the harbin cultural island despite the extremely cold conditions. members of the public can access the building via hidden pathways carved into the exterior façade, allowing it to double as a public pavilion. these paths lead to an open amphitheater and observation platform offering sweeping views of both harbin and the adjacent river.

 

 

photographers in focus: iwan baan
video courtesy of NOWNESS

 

 

 

a behind-the-scenes film has also been released by NOWNESS, where iwan baan explains his process for photographing the opera house. the short documentary illustrates the power of architectural photography and states how baan strives to capture the present moment of a place instead of creating a timeless scene. ‘I’m not trying to create timeless images that could be in any moment in time,’ says the photographer. ‘they should always have a strong connection to a specific place, time, people, context, or culture.’

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an aerial view of the sinuous structure
image © iwan baan

mad-architects-harbin-opera-house-china-iwan-baan-photography-ma-yansong-designboom-02
the building took five years to complete
image © iwan baan

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the building forms a focal point of the cultural island
image © iwan baan

mad-architects-harbin-opera-house-china-iwan-baan-photography-ma-yansong-designboom-02
the form of the building evokes a response to the location’s natural elements
image © iwan baan

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the grand theater is clad in rich manchurian ash wood
image © iwan baan

mad-architects-harbin-opera-house-china-iwan-baan-photography-ma-yansong-designboom-02
timber walls climb up the main stage, illuminated by the skylights above
image © iwan baan

mad-architects-harbin-opera-house-china-iwan-baan-photography-ma-yansong-designboom-02
interiors are clad with a combination of glass and timber
image © iwan baan

mad-architects-harbin-opera-house-china-iwan-baan-photography-ma-yansong-designboom-02
surfaces alternate between smooth and faceted – referencing the region’s billowing snow and ice
image © iwan baan

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the opera house appears sculpted by the natural environment
image © iwan baan

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the photo series features a number of local residents
image © iwan baan

 

 

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  • What a beautiful awe inspiring organic structure. I marvel at what humans can design and build.

    Julie Prince says:
  • Superb design, both exterior & interior. So sensitive to its location and fitting in that it is not overawed by other buildings close by. Congratulations Ma Yansong & the MAD team d’-)

    Jetwax says:

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