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RIBA in hot water for Hadid's Galaxy Soho gong

The RIBA has been slated by a Beijing heritage body for awarding Zaha Hadid’s Galaxy Soho scheme a prestigious award

The 330,000m² office, retail and entertainment complex in central Beijing was awarded an International RIBA Award 2013 earlier this summer and has also been shortlisted for the 2013 Lubetkin Prize (AJ 18.07.2013).

Galaxy Soho, featuring four domed buildings connected by a system of bridges and balconies, was described by RIBA as ‘distinctly urban rather than suburban, civic as much as it is commercial’.

But the Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center said in an open letter to the institute (read it in full here) that the award had ‘shocked’ many in China.

The body said the scheme had a negative impact on Beijing’s old town and had ‘caused great damage’ to the existing streetscape.

‘Many of us in Beijing are very disappointed and offended,’ said the letter.

It added: ‘We sincerely hope that RIBA will understand this sorrow and concern of the Chinese people and take action to help make up for the negative impact this award has caused.’

A spokesman for the RIBA confirmed the institute had received letter and would reply but would not be ‘sharing [the] response publicly’.

When we were appointed to the project, no buildings existed on the site

However Zaha Hadid responded to the accusations saying that the prctice had worked with the Local Design Institute (LDI) ‘to ensure the project complied with all government building regulations and planning requirements’ throughout the design process.

A spokesman added: ‘When we were appointed to the project, no buildings existed on the site which is adjacent to large scale commercial/civic buildings and one of Beijing’s busiest motorways; the East Second Ring Road.’

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