Galaxy Soho: Breathtaking design but does not responds to site.


Galaxy Soho is a huge complex comprising of retail, office and entertainment spaces under four domed structures, which are fused together by bridges and platforms around a series of public courtyards and a large central “canyon”. The massive 330 000 square metre complex is opened last month in Beijing, China and is designed by Zaha Hadid. She had designed many impressive masterpiece like Bergisel Ski Jump (Austria), BMW Central Building (Germany), Bridge Pavilion (Spain), Guangzhou Opera House (China), London Aquatics Centre (UK), Riverside Museum (UK), etc which cemented her position as one of the world’s most famous architects in the present.

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Galaxy Soho’s design is quite fascinating. It has the futuristic look, and its fluidity is very much apparent on its form and circulation. Things are smooth and soft, which stays away from her usual fascination with sharp corners or forms. From what I can see from the images, I believe visitors would have the impression of walking into another much advanced world, which is actually only a few steps away from the Beijing’s ‘hutongs’, narrow alleyways of the densely populated surrounding traditional neighbourhoods.  ‘Hutongs’ have been typical of Beijing’s urban fabric for hundreds of years, but have been in decline as the city’s development continues to increase.

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The architect claims that the buildings respond to and are respectful of China’s historic building typologies, with courtyards and “fluid movement” between spaces. “The design responds to the varied contextual relationships and dynamic conditions of Beijing,” said Hadid at the time of the opening. “We have created a variety of public spaces that directly engage with the city, reinterpreting the traditional urban fabric and contemporary living patterns into a seamless urban landscape inspired by nature.” What a fantastic description provided by Zaha Hadid.

Well, I have to agree that architect has to be very good on his or her English proficiency to describe things in a much beautiful way to impress the clients. But be reminded, what you are saying should truly conveys the clarity of design intent and the honesty of outcome, No bullshitting. And so, I would like to say sorry to Zaha Hadid that what she said are all just fantasy in her mind. The building is now criticized for lack of acknowledging the surrounding context or built environment.  It would be nice if it is placed in the modern part of the city. But now, it’s at the historical heritage areas which makes the state-of-the-art complex looks awkward.

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She had the idea, quite a brilliant one. But she had been driven too much in contemporary approach until forgetting the roots, to a level that people outside of architecture profession will find it hard or even impossible to get it. This is what left people guessing now on how that massive complex relates or corresponds to the site. And yes, that is one very important aspect in design process for every architects that Zaha didn’t pull through for this building. A lesson to learn for all architects including myself. Nevertheless, Galaxy Soho is still an awesome-looking structure. 

(Information and images in this post are from the following source: http://www.dezeen.com/2012/11/15/galaxy-soho-by-zaha-hadid-architects-photographed-by-hufton-crow/)

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5 Responses to “Galaxy Soho: Breathtaking design but does not responds to site.”

  1. Yes, I very much agree with you. This project doesn’t respect its context!

  2. A futuristic look but not a great design. Far too bland if you ask me.

  3. Oh bullshit – this is an awesome, awe-inspiring building, and you want it to be stuck in the “tradition” baggage? Go live on hutongs with your history-loving friends.

  4. Oh bullshit – this is a svelte, courageous, awe-inspiring building, and you want the architect to stay mired in some “history” and “tradition” of the place?

    To hell with that! There’s a time for everything, and the time for hutongs has gone. Let the new, let the modern, take place.

    • Dear Dan,

      I do appreciate your comment but kindly don’t be that harsh in your words. If looking the building by itself, then it’s an impressive building. Way awesome. However, a building must have a site to sit, and for that, the architecture has to respect the context of site. Not to say just stay with the old, traditional values. but we can actually approach and relate to that in contemporary design.

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