Changsha Meixihu International Culture
and Art Centre by Zaha Hadid Architects


Construction is now underway on a Zaha Hadid-designed cultural complex on the edge of a lake in Changsha, China (+ movie).

Changsha Meixihu International Culture and Art Centre by Zaha Hadid Architects

The project, which broke ground in October, features an 1800-seat theatre, a contemporary art museum and a smaller multi-purpose venue. Each building is planned as a grouping of petal-shaped volumes that curve around one another to create a central plaza and a series of connecting lawns, terraces and pathways.

Changsha Meixihu International Culture and Art Centre by Zaha Hadid Architects

Zaha Hadid Architects won a competition in 2011 to masterplan the site, which sits opposite Festival Island on the edge of Meixi Lake. As part of the project, the architects will add two pedestrian bridges leading over to the island.

Changsha Meixihu International Culture and Art Centre by Zaha Hadid Architects

The Grand Theatre will be the largest of the three buildings and will positioned at the entrance to the site, while the smaller 500-seat venue is to be positioned opposite and will open out to a sunken courtyard lined with shops and restaurants.

Changsha Meixihu International Culture and Art Centre by Zaha Hadid Architects

The museum is planned for the edge of Meixihu Road and will feature a central atrium that separates to form three wings. On one side, the gallery will lead out to an external plaza for use as a sculpture exhibition area or as a temporary event space.

Changsha Meixihu International Culture and Art Centre by Zaha Hadid Architects

Zaha Hadid Architects has been working on a number of other projects in China. The firm completed the mixed-use Galaxy Soho complex at the end of 2012 and is also racing to complete the Wangjing Soho complex before a rival developer that has pirated the design.

Changsha Meixihu International Culture and Art Centre by Zaha Hadid Architects

Other recent masterplans by Zaha Hadid Architects include a cluster of towers in Bratislava's city centre and the redevelopment of an old textile factory in Belgrade. See more architecture and design by Zaha Hadid.

Changsha Meixihu International Culture and Art Centre by Zaha Hadid Architects

Other radical proposals for Changsha include a shape-shifting "transformer building" and plans to construct the world's tallest building. See more architecture in China.

Here's some extra information from Zaha Hadid Architects:

Changsha Meixihu International Culture & Art Centre

The International Culture & Arts Centre embodies a unique variety of civic nodes and spaces: A Grand Theatre, a Contemporary Art Museum, a Multipurpose Hall and supporting facilities. The central plaza is generated by the relative position of these separate buildings and offers a strong urban experience whereby the flow of pedestrian visitors that come from all sides of the site intersect and meet. In parallel it also stretches outwards to the neighbouring streets with unfettered and phenomenal views across Meixi lake with access towards Festival Island.

The Grand Theatre is the focal point of the Changsha International Culture & Arts Centre. It is the largest performance venue in the city with a total capacity of 1800 seats. Designed to host world-standard performances the building contains will contain all the necessary front of house functions, such as lobbies, cloakrooms, bars, restaurants, and VIP hospitality, as well as the required ancillary functions, such as administration, rehearsal rooms, backstage logistics, dressing and make-up rooms, and wardrobe.

The Museum's composition of three fluid petals around its internal central atrium, juxtaposes of the various patchworks of gallery spaces in a truly seamless fashion. With outward views and balconies to its exteriors, it aims to engage the site's unique location and surrounding views into some of its gallery spaces. An external plaza which faces Meixi Lake Road allows for outdoor sculptures, exhibitions and events to be extended to an expansive outdoor space.

The Small Theatre (Multipurpose Hall) is characterised by its flexibility. With a maximum capacity of 500 seats, it can be adapted and transformed to different configurations. It can therefore accommodate a broad range of functions and shows that span from banquets and commercial events to small plays, fashion shows and music. A commercial attraction, this venue shares seamless public access to retail areas and restaurant facilities, which are seated in an open and gently sunken courtyard linking visitors to and from the basement level.

Although these civic institutions are uniquely defined and separate, they supply each other in all respects within its setting with plazas offering visitors a tapestry-like sequence of urban ambiances that relate to the different institutions, inject the site with urban vitality. The working hours of the different venues also overlap to ensure continuity during the full 24 hour cycle; Operated during the evening, the Grand Theatre becomes active as the Museum begins to conclude its day-time operations whilst the Small theatre and retail/restaurants would be commercially available day and night. In this regard, they benefit from each other’s vicinity, ensuring that the site is lively 24 hours a day. This dynamic composition further establishes a powerful relationship with its surroundings, which confers monumentality to the ensemble.

Embodying values of functionality, elegance and innovation, the Changsha Meixi Lake International Culture & Arts Centre aims to become the new cultural and civic node for the city of Changsha, and well as global cultural destination.

  • Bruce Lee

    I feel the architects of Hadid’s works are becoming ever more self-indulgent.

  • Kris

    I think enough is enough. Let’s send the boys in.

    • amsam

      What does that mean? The male architects?

      • Kris

        Google it.

  • alexander

    Wow! Is this stuff still being built? These amusement parks? The prompt was “we want an eyesore for our children, a grandiose student work from the glory days of early blobitecture.” ZH is the go-to for these projects and she never disappoints.

  • colin

    Please stop.

  • Gavin

    Yeah, Hadid's buildings are great until you try to put anything in them, something the film illustrates perfectly.

  • Colin

    Dead whales on a shore.

    • andi

      …rotting for two weeks.

  • If this was scaled down to, say, a toilet seat, I might buy it. Groovy.

  • amsam

    I’m not one of the crazy reflexive Zaha haters, but this looks pretty kitschy to me.

  • aleks

    Industrial design piece of work. Out of scale, out of sense.

  • I like it. So sue me. The 14 year old sci fi geek in me loves it and its less of a waste of money than most government/defense/oil/insert humongous waste of resources that no-one seems to get their panties in a twist about here… projects.

  • D.O

    Terribly ugly and unfitting. What a shame.

  • mon

    Have the engineers all quit their jobs yet?

  • prompter

    Could we please leave this kind of architecture and the accompanying music for sci-fi B-movies of the nineties?

  • Another object that’s uniquely shaped but lacks ties with outer space.

  • sickofit

    The Zaha Hadid building generator has whirred into action again. Just plug in the size of the building needed and hey presto, your blob will be generated.

    • Crack

      There is a master Grasshopper file that only Zaha controls, with three sliders:

      1) Randomize
      2) No. of buildings
      3) Relevance to context

      Actually, this last one used to be a slider in earlier work, but we fixed this to zero as she was moving the slider too fast and the definition kept crashing.

      • AsWicked

        The last one had never been moved and thus rusted in place.

  • ricky

    Her projects don’t seem to come out of the human mind anymore but straight out from a self-generating computer program. What a shame to the profession.

  • tester

    It would be great to walk there :)

    In the video, about 4:00, isnt the railing on the first floor too high? Or are those tickets the cheapest ? :)

  • It just looks like whipped cream.

  • bassel

    It’s just one too many tricks in a single building. So over-designed.

  • again

    Oddly enough, I think that these buildings look pretty terrible as objects, but the spaces seem interesting from the ground/human scale .

  • vphilot

    I have always been a fan of Zaha since I was a student, but suddently I got tired of her. You know, her early works are still awesome, but the latest just seem wedding cake over cocaine. Still admire her skills on Rhino, but it’s always basically empty space and these ceiling lights that are NO WAY gonna be built like that.

  • jeong

    Is there anybody who can explain why people hate her work? Of course I am not her fan. However, I really haven’t any idea why her works are always criticized by people, especially on Dezeen’s space. Instead of just sarcastic comments, please let me know the reason.

    • zizi

      Well, most architecture schools teach that architecture must be rational (i.e. squared) and sustainable, hence the widespread hate for Zaha and organic or deconstructivist architecture among teachers and their students.

      • MZK

        Or maybe schools teach that an architect’s role is to try to analyse and then find what the building should be according to context and program.

        So after that when you see another buildings from a studio where obviously they start every single design already being 100% sure that it will be a Zaha Hadid-style building, well… But she isn’t the only one.

        • zizi

          Yeah, well I’m not really sure context is such a big concern in most schools.

    • MZK

      Interesting question! Every “hater” should try to reply.

      I’ll try to bring something which is maybe part of the explanation: I think that she is part of these architects trusting all the attention of the media because of their very powerful pictures (I mean this design is so “designed”, not simple at all, that all the attention is automatically converging to it).

      And if we (media and readers) focus on her, obviously we miss something else, someone else’s work.

      So I think that people are just tired of her bringing again and again the same kind of over-designed building trying to catch everybody’s attention (I’m sorry but that’s exactly the way they are designed) without any really new architectural ideas, when other architects find new ideas without being able to have any attention.

      I mean the way she designs isn’t subtle. So it’s like if she was always yelling again and again the same thing, preventing us to hear other whispered great ideas.

      • zizi

        Yeah, you’re right. Envy for sure has a role, too, in the Zaha-bashing thing. Good point.

      • jeong

        Cheers MZK and zizi. thanks for your detailed comments. I could think of her work from different views. Thanks guys.

  • tanya

    If men design phallic architecture, this can only be the work of a female.

    • dUMB

      That’s what I thought – particularly when you look at the cruciform roof plan!

  • zizi

    Beautiful project. I like the contrast between the white and the glass parts. The contrast between the harmony that Zaha’s architecture transmits and the cold despairing ugliness of the boxy buildings around it is a powerful statement for organic architecture. And now let’s break the record for thumbs down.

    • andi

      I’d try but I can only vote once. Anyway, here’s my dislike.

  • Or is it just misogyny? She certainly gets everybody talking anyway – good on her!

  • fdbarch

    What about some green spaces? I sense a tribute to an organic concrete jungle, just like in Calatrava’s work in Valencia, Spain. Huge spaces not designed for a human-scale experience.

  • mcmlxix

    Someone please take away her CAD and give her a drafting board and pen set.

    • Scotty Dog

      Does any body remember her Hong Kong peak project? That was designed in the days of the drawing board. Lots of straight lines, but none parallel, all angles and tangents. Deemed unbuildable at the time.

  • dUMB

    I do have a problem with the seemingly endless output of curvy CAD forms, which to this reader have nothing to do with context or location (but maybe that’s the point in a futuristic world). Since Mr.Schumacher joined the output went from straight lines to curves practically overnight (or so it seemed) and the commissions keep rolling in so why would anyone question what is being produced?

    However, back to this project: the video is pretty damn good, the spaces in the first building are particularly exciting, less so in the second, whilst the auditorium looks a bit grim.

  • Rich

    No redeeming qualities.

  • theidlearchitect

    Clustered toilet lids.

  • Scotty Dog

    It is an interesting form of blob architecture. Great backdrop for sci-fi films, I agree. Does this mean that we are due a batch of sci-fi kung fu movies? It seems to be the only thing that can take place in some of these spaces.

  • Box?

    From reading all of the comments, it seems that the only form of contextual architecture is square. Hardly anybody is saying how the blob doesn’t communicate with its surroundings, just outrage at Zaha designing something curvaceous, again.
    What if curvilinear is the new square?

    I do agree with a comment about people focusing so hard on Zaha they may miss what’s out there, but that goes for all the people writing negatively too: if you don’t like Zaha, find someone else’s work to champion.

    Vote with your heels as they would say. Either way. CAD monkey or not, she’s doing well for herself so I doubt she gives a damn what you or I even say.

  • Juan Manuel Ben

    As a Lover of a futuristic concept, I lover her work, despite the many stupid things people say over here.

    Architecture, for me, is collapsing. If architecture doesn’t make things clear from the beggining, it will disappear in the hands of the real estate agency. Those guys are making the city, not you, the architects. Your lame works or your high sense of ego, or the same resource to do architecture is making an impact nowadays and not good impact.

    At least I have to admire this amazing woman, because she creates a new language, a new form, she shapes the future, she mixes architecture with new technology aplications, she bring new concepts, she brings to the city new shapes. She is the perfect combination of architecture and urbanism.

    Do you thinks Le Corbusier will still be on top in the next 50 years? I don’t think so.
    Zada Hadid, your work will be understood in the next year, because today’s architects are dying, because of lack of originality, expression, technological applications, new materials, sense of city, future and the capacity of men to brings things to a whole other level.

  • Hamideh

    I really like the way she designs. Let’s look at the world differently.

  • Daphne

    Could you please stop doing s*** in China, Zaha?!