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Zaha Hadid's Guangzhou Opera House goes up in flames

Dramatic scenes in China as construction site for high-profile theatre burns

A Chinese media outlet, Architecture BBS reports that blaze has been extinguished but that the extent of the damage has not been determined.

A statement from Hadid’s office said: ‘An incident involving a fire at the construction site of the Guangzhou Opera House occurred at 7:50am on Saturday 9 May 2009. All staff were evacuated safely with no injuries. No members of the public were involved.

‘The fire was extinguished by the Fire Department in under an hour. Initial inspections confirm the structure of the building remains completely intact. Further investigations into the cause are undergoing. We must wait for these investigations to be completed before we know if the opening date will need to be altered.’

The project, which will cover an area of 46,000m² and has a price tag of one billion yuan (£65m), was expected to open later this year as China’s third-largest theatre.

Opera Houses are a source of civic pride in China and are frequently designed by foreigners such as Hadid, French architect Paul Andreu (Beijing) and Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott (Hangzhou, Wenzhou, Zhengdong New Town and Dongguan).

Hadid’s opera house is not the first high-profile building to catch fire in China this year. In February Rem Koolhaas’s 159m Television Cultural Centre (TVCC) tower in Beijing went up in flames, ignited by illegal fireworks from new year celebrations. At least one person was killed and an undisclosed number injured.

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