Galaxy Soho by
Zaha Hadid Architects


London firm Zaha Hadid Architects has completed a 330,000-square-metre retail, office and entertainment complex in Beijing (+ slideshow).

Galaxy Soho by Zaha Hadid Architects

The Galaxy Soho building comprises four main domed structures, fused together by bridges and platforms between curving floor plates to create a fluid environment that surrounds a series of public courtyards and a larger central "canyon".

Galaxy Soho by Zaha Hadid Architects

"The design responds to the varied contextual relationships and dynamic conditions of Beijing," says Zaha Hadid. "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."

Galaxy Soho by Zaha Hadid Architects

There are 18 floors in total, including three below ground, with retail units surrounding the courtyards on the lower levels, offices from floors four to 15, and restaurants and bars at the upper reaches.

Galaxy Soho by Zaha Hadid Architects

The exterior of the building is clad in aluminium and stone while the interior features glass, terrazzo, stainless steel and glass reinforced gypsum.

Galaxy Soho by Zaha Hadid Architects

The firm is currently working on two more developments for the same client, Soho China.

Galaxy Soho by Zaha Hadid Architects

The Sky Soho office and retail centre in Shanghai will also make use of large public courtyards and is scheduled for completion next year, while the 115,393-square-metre Wangjing Soho commercial complex, scheduled for completion in 2014, will comprise three pebble-shaped towers midway between Beijing Capital Airport and the city.

Galaxy Soho by Zaha Hadid Architects

Read more about Wangjing Soho in our earlier story and see all our stories about Zaha Hadid Architects.

Galaxy Soho by Zaha Hadid Architects

Photographs are by Iwan Baan.

Here's some more information from Zaha Hadid Architects:

Zaha Hadid joined Soho China's Zhang Xin and Pan Shiyi, with 15,000 guests from China and around the world, to celebrate the completion of Galaxy Soho, Beijing

The Galaxy SOHO project in central Beijing for SOHO China is a 330 000m2 office, retail and entertainment complex that will become an integral part of the living city, inspired by the grand scale of Beijing. Its architecture is a composition of four continuous, flowing volumes that are set apart, fused or linked by stretched bridges. These volumes adapt to each other in all directions, generating a panoramic architecture without corners or abrupt transitions that break the fluidity of its formal composition.

Galaxy Soho by Zaha Hadid Architects

The great interior courts of the project are a reflection of traditional Chinese architecture where courtyards create an internal world of continuous open spaces. Here, the architecture is no longer composed of rigid blocks, but instead comprised of volumes which coalesce to create a world of continuous mutual adaptation and fluid movement between each building. Shifting plateaus within the design impact upon each other to generate a deep sense of immersion and envelopment. As users enter deeper into the building, they discover intimate spaces that follow the same coherent formal logic of continuous curvelinearity.

Galaxy Soho by Zaha Hadid Architects

The lower three levels of Galaxy SOHO house public facilities for retail and entertainment. The levels immediately above provide work spaces for clusters of innovative businesses. The top of the building is dedicated to bars, restaurants and cafés that offer views along one of the greatest avenues of the city. These different functions are interconnected through intimate interiors that are always linked with the city, helping to establish Galaxy SOHO as a major urban landmark for Beijing.

Galaxy Soho by Zaha Hadid Architects

Design: Zaha Hadid with Patrik Schumacher
Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects
Project Director: Satoshi Ohashi
Associate: Cristiano Ceccato
Project Architect: Yoshi Uchiyama

Galaxy Soho by Zaha Hadid Architects

Project Team: Stephan Wurster, Michael Hill, Samer Chamoun, Eugene Leung, Rita Lee, Lillie Liu Rolando Rodriguez-Leal, Wen Tao, Tom Wuenschmann, Seung-ho Yeo, Shuojiong Zhang, Michael Grau, Shu Hashimoto Shao-Wei Huang, Chikara Inamura, Lydia Kim, Yasuko Kobayashi, Wang Lin, Yereem Park

Galaxy Soho by Zaha Hadid Architects

Local Design Institute: BIAD Beijing Institute of Architecture & Design

Plot area: 46,965 m2
Total Floor Area: 332,857 m2
Above Ground: 4 Towers 15 Floors (12 Office Floors and 3 Retail Floors)
Max Height: 67 meters
Below Ground: B1 Floor Retail and B2, B3 Parking (1275 cars), MEP
Retail Floors: B1F,1F,2F,3F (90,000 m2)

Galaxy Soho by Zaha Hadid Architects

Materials Skin: 3mm Aluminium Exterior Cladding, Insulated Glass, Stone
Materials Interiors: Glass, Terrazzo, GRG, Stainless Steel, Gypsum Board Painted
Structure: Standard Concrete Structure (8.4m spans)
Floor to Floor Heights: Retail floors 5.4m, office floors 3.5m

  • Tayab

    Congratulations to Team ZHA. I’m sure the haters will continue to hate.

  • morgs96

    Absolutely lovely. I won’t hear a bad word about Zaha’s work, it’s really coming of age. She has few true peers.

    • cubert

      Yes! You’re right, from her it could be worse.

  • Remy

    Magnificent! Looks like the Axiom, the spaceship in the WALL-E movie.

  • stefan

    Sorry, but it doesn’t look “completed”. Lots of detail images (practically the same image over an over again), no image with the whole building or the context, almost no interior shot. Why?

    • Pascal

      It is because if you have been to Beijing and seen the type of spec office buildings being pumped out by certain developers, you will know that there's nothing much to see in terms of interiors. Unless you want to see cheaply installed ceiling grids and standard aircon ducts. The exterior sells the building, and that is the end to it.

  • dfyter

    Not the worst Hadid work.

  • 3DD

    Pictures look like CGIs rather then photograps of the building.

  • Akeel

    The building needs a splash of colour and texture. White is just too clinical and easily stained over the years. I can’t complain about the form: this is Zaha and it’s her signature so either you love it or hate it. I love Zaha; she’s original. Or she was until others started to copy her.

    • StPierre

      When merchants start to come in, you’ll see plenty of colors, textures and life.

    • What?

      So others start to copy her and that makes her less original now. Another year at logic school is advised.

  • JMA

    Brilliant looking building and, despite the shots not showing it, sits really well in context. Looks like Zaha is learning from past mistakes in terms of detailing. This one looks great.

  • andreas

    I’m live in Beijing and I need to say, it’s not like the photo! The photo makes it very clean and shining. That’s not the true building. Also, you need to see the building from outside of the area – it is a monster inside the city.

    • Critic

      You live in Beijing, you say, but you haven’t been to east second ring road that is for sure. Do you realize that the general scale of all buildings there is disproportionate and enormous? It is Beijing. It is China. The scale goes beyond what even Americans could imagine. So who do you want to blame for that? On a street of “monsters” Zaha Hadid Architects added another “monster”. What is your point excactly?

      Yesterday I saw CCTV being in serious need of a facade cleaning. Should I blame Rem Koolhaas that his building got dirty in the second most polluted city in the world? If you have nothing to criticise it might be better not to criticise.

      • Siddharth Suri

        In answer to your question. Yes, you should blame Koolhaas for making a dirty building. Architecture needs to adapt to local context: cultural, physiological and technical.

  • Very creative with lots of organic looking structural details. A most magnificent realization! Bravo to Zaha Hadid and her team!

  • WebsterW

    Have you actually seen this building in person? The photos are way too deceiving! The ceilings are brilliantly lit at night, and you can see they are very cheaply done. And the same goes with the windows. Let’s not even talk about the poor detailing and terrible execution of workmanship. Go take a trip to Beijing and see it for yourself, and you shall understand the deceptive power of photography. Andreas is spot on.

    • Galaxy

      The deceiving power of photography… yes of course, what great injustice. Cry me a river Webster. So you expect Zaha Hadid Architects to hire a photographer and pay him a lot of money so he takes pictures of the construction flaws which seem to be your only obsession?

      Also, who do you want to blame for cheap construction? Zaha? The client with a tight budget? China with it’s mainly unskilled workforce? What is your point that hasn’t been made a hundred times before? Right there is nothing beyond the obvious that everybody who only has a tiny clue about China already knows.

      By the way, the people who work for Zaha and specifically those who worked on this project for four years, wear bitter comments such as yours like a robe. We feel pride to be congratulated in the comment sections, but if we manage to enrage the eternal haters and know it falls with all their recurring weak arguments, it gives us an extra boost.

      • SuperNova

        The point made is that no matter how much effort you put on the realization of the project, which is impressive none the less, you only fulfill the developer’s needs and your personal ambitions. What about some less expensive exteriors, maybe it would counterbalance the budget for some less cheap interiors.

    • Vitruvius

      Architectural photos are deceiving? Really? Next thing you’ll tell me is that fashion magazines use Photoshop. Shocker.

      Just to be clear, an architectural photographer that knows his job is trying to capture the essence of a building with his pictures. Had you been there and experienced the building, you would know that he did good. Is architectural photography a replacement for visiting a building by yourself? Anyone who tells you it is a fool. So you telling us that this building looks different in real life than on the pictures is simply stating the obvious.

    • Naysay

      I think the problem lies more with the developer than anyone else and it isn’t the fault of the architect. Certain developers in China are notorious for developing forward-looking but cheaply built buildings and I believe this is the case here as well. Webster’s criticism is certainly misplaced. Having said that, I think some people cannot take any criticism of their work but are only too willing to lap up the praise.

  • Colonel Pancake

    I feel sorry for the photoshopper that lost a month of his or her life trying to make this building look like a piece of plastic.

  • batman

    Get real. Most freeforms also outside china are poor in execution. The industry is years if not decades behind CGI or CG-designs. Next time maybe you guys go to the site during construction and give a hand to the workers mounting those 3D panels at freezing temperatures. I am sure they will appreciate it. Contribute and inspire, or shut up.

  • Tellsitlikeitis

    All architecture photos are deceiving. What planet are you living on, if I may ask? So everybody can publish their stylized Photoshopped images of their projects but Zaha Hadid has to zoom in on construction errors? Yeah makes perfect sense.

    I was at the opening and the building looks spectacular. What you call shoddy workmanship is called Chinese building standard in the real world. You have never built in China- that is very obvious from your petty post. You expect in a developing country where most of the buildings are built by unskilled labourers from the countryside that they’ll look like a Swiss watch? Yes your comment makes perfect sense. Congratulations on your investigative skills.

  • PeterGreene

    Finally, something from ZHA that I like. But if the comments on the build quality are true, then it's a shame. But still I like it.

  • Architizer

    Nice try. These pictures were taking by Iwan Baan, one of the most respected architectural photographers these days, and they were taken less than a week ago. Come back when you understand the basics of photography. Thank you.

    • Sam

      Do tell, what exactly qualifies Iwan Baan as 'one of the most respected architectural photographers these days' besides his uncanny ability to visit buildings before other photographers arrive there?

      • Architizer

        You must be a lesser known architectural photographer. Iwan Baan just won the Golden Lion in Venice. Not enough for you? Well some people are simply hard to satisfy.

  • Jose Freire

    Oh my god. I was at the opening last Saturday and I absolutely love it. Very powerful and original. These developers are actually making a difference with their approach. Anybody who knows the generic awfulness that most Chinese developers create should be happy that Soho China do what they do.

  • £oney

    The point is, that the photographs really show this building in a good light (credit to Iwan). Too good maybe. It looks statuesque and a little unreal, even render-like. Also, would be nice to see it within its surroundings, more real life, i.e. street view camera :-)

  • Greg

    Nice sculpture. It will be better to see it when it is populated.

  • Fizz

    This must be one of the most sculptural building complexes around today – a mammoth walk-in sculpture, no less. As some have pointed out, the clinical appearance portrayed by the photos (which technically are superb) could be offset by the in situ 'messy' dynamics of people going hither and thither plus the paraphernalia of retail businesses.

    My one concern – and perhaps this can be confirmed or refuted by those who have actually been there – is the vastness and complexity of scale relating to the human dimension. How overpowering could it be in terms of alienating those who interact with the spaces and vistas? By that I mean, just looking at the images I personally get a sense of spacial imposition, an overarching oppression (especially from a height) and visual confusion that may create disorientation. So those who will work and shop there, will they in time feel a welcome from their surroundings or an aloof indifference to their feeling of comfort?

    I'm of a school of thought that architecture is actually about people – how they live, work, play, relate to their surroundings and so on. Buildings are their to service and promote the way we live, or wish to in the best possible light – emotionally, economically, ecologically. So it's all very well to create structures that create awe through their voluminous presence and genius engineering but to place that ahead of – even in spite of – what happens once people are placed within them is perhaps not the greatest principle of prioritisation.

    Having said all this, with a historical nod to UK readers, though nothing like the same scale, eventually most came around to accepting the foibles of the once notorious Barbican site. Therefore I might be worrying over nothing.

  • G Major

    Another stunning addition to the skyline from Hadid.

  • Andre Friedmann

    Baan’s photographs whet my appetite for the photographs that will place Hadid’s building within its cityscape.

  • Steven B

    I like how a lot of Zaha’s designs/renderings rarely include people. They are never to a human scale and often very uncomfortable to be in. They are solely objects: beautiful to look at.

  • cossa

    Sounds like Zaha Hadid has more fans following her than people who are critical about architecture.

  • Kevin

    When her fans talk about her objects, it’s always about how spectacular they look but NOT the space or material or anything architectural. Obviously she fails to see space.

  • Ralph Kent

    Anyone got any figures regarding how much of this is occupied – at least in the retail? Looks very much like another Chinese trophy ghost development to me – building as phoney GDP growth driver.

    As an aside, I do think It is actually embarrassing how many ZHA fanboys Dezeen attracts. Architecture as object: it looks cool/it looks like a spaceship/it looks like a UFO – QED it’s great.


  • Eliani

    Who else but Zaha Hadid to make such a design! Love it and I must see it when I go to Beijing :)

    Zaha Hadid is a talking converstion in many blogs, another one that talks about interesting stuff:

  • Jalal Khan

    Haters have no creativity left except to hate.