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Architect has plans for Cardiff Bay built… in China

An architect who applied to build a world-class opera house in Cardiff Bay only to have the plan rejected, has finally found a home for her work in Guangzhou, China.

16 years after applying for the development of the cultural building in Cardiff Bay, Zaha Hadid can now see her dream realised. The architect applied in 1995 as part of the Millennium project and many were shocked that her idea was rejected.

The Guangzhou Opera House has transformed the Chinese city of Guangzhou, which has four times the population of Wales, into a cultural capital.

The landmark building is made of granite, glass and steel and has left commentators contemplating how the building would have looked in Wales.

Guardian columnist Jonathan Glancey wrote: “Ah, yes, the Cardiff Bay Opera House. In 1994, Hadid had designed a magical theatre for the Welsh coast.

“It would have become the most radical and compelling building in Britain, but an alliance of narrow-minded politicians, peevish commentators and assorted dullards holding the Lottery purse strings ensured it was never built.”

New York Times writer Nicolai Ouroussoff, described the Guangzhou Opera House as the “most alluring opera house built anywhere in the world in decades,” adding: “The project is a vindication for Ms Hadid.

“In the mid-1990s, when she was still a rising star with few buildings to her credit, she won an international competition for the design of the Cardiff Bay Opera House in Wales. It was a breakthrough moment.

“Yet the government refused to pay for her design and the project was eventually handed over to a lesser talent – an outcome that was devastating for Ms Hadid and a blow to architectural history.”

The British Council has commented on the uproar, saying that the project was “abandoned by the Millennium Commission after noisy opposition from local lobbyists, particularly Cardiff politicians wary of highbrow architecture being ‘imposed’ on a Welsh city by London”.

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