Iwan Baan

Beijing's newest piece of starchitecture.

“Continuous curvilinearity” is the clumsy phrase Zaha Hadid Architects uses to describe their newly opened Galaxy SOHO office, shopping, and entertainment center in Beijing. Even so, there’s no denying the rhapsody of curves that the complex is, at least when Iwan Baan is photographing it. Under Baan’s perceptive lens, the 330,000 square-meter structure is transformed from the strikingly dull, odd jumble of misshapen forms all previous images of the site depicted the complex to be into a stunning, if not entirely successful, work of giddy optimism.

True to its name, the Galaxy SOHO revels in its sci-fi affinities, a quality most evident at night when the colossal structure(s) emits a fluorescent glow. Stretch bridges spanning the gaps between the four large orbs that anchor the site read like the “streets in the sky” concept advanced by the Smithsons and Jetsons alike–a kind of “widescreen” futurism dumped in the center of Beijing.

The circular mounds, the highest of which peaks at 15 stories, are arranged around large courtyards weaved through the site. The planimetric scheme was derived, say the architects, from traditional Chinese courtyards, only here there are no “corners or abrupt transitions that break the fluidity of its formal composition.

All photographs by Iwan Baan, courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects.

This post originally appeared on Architizer.

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