Friday, 1 April 2016

Death of Zaha Hadid reminds us of our lack of ab nation.

The death of world-renowned British architect Zaha Hadid h  whose designs include the London Olympic Aquatic Centre
Though in Wales Cardiff Bay Opera House she is provably better known for  a proposed centre for the performing arts in Cardiff BayCardiffWales, conceived in the 1990s as a crucial part of the Cardiff Bay redevelopment project. One aim was of the scheme was the creation of a new home for the Welsh National Opera company, which was then based in the New Theatre in Cardiff. The Wales Millennium Centre was built in its place and it opened in 2004.

The project  apparently lacked support from either South Glamorgan County Council or Cardiff City Council and was savaged by the media as being "elitist" and ugly. The Millennium Commission, which gave funding to such projects from the UK National Lottery, refused to fund the project as it considered it to be financially risky. This was not helped by the successful application for funding for the Millennium Stadium, just a few miles away. Eventually, the project collapsed. The project was said to have been destroyed by lack of public support for the design and by Cardiff Council's support for the Millennium Stadium.
The decision to formally reject the bid for lottery money by the Millennium Commission was announced on 22 December 1995.[

 Virginia Bottomley, Secretary of State for National Heritage, announced in a news conference that the project was flawed by uncertainties in the building's financing and construction, which made it the project too risky.
 Lord Crickhowell interrupted that news conference to denounce the rejection. He said the decision was "...shocking and incomprehensible...If this had been a project in London, it would be getting backing...You can understand the annoyance of people in Wales that we can't get the kind of vitally important projects that London seems to be allowed."[

Indeed there was even I believe a claim by  claim by David Mellor that Cardiff shouldn't have a better  Opera House than London

The Guangzhou Opera House
But  Zaha Hadid  eventualy saw her design used  for the Guangzhou Opera House which  is now credited with transforming the  Chinese city with a population more than four times the size of Wales into a cultural capital.

I wonder if it had been built in Cardiff Bay it wouldn't now be as iconic as the Sydney Opera  House which faced similar objections.

The project was succeeded by the Wales Millennium Centre, which included a broader range of artistic offerings and was said to be more in keeping with Welsh culture, whilst retaining the opera element. The Centre opened in November 2004, on the site originally intended for Opera House.

Maybe we got what is best for Cardiff but I can't help thinking the failure to build the Opera House to  Zaha Hadid  design, shows the lack of ambition of our local politicians and London culture imperialism which ours scorn on anything that might outshine the  English capital..

1 comment:

  1. Well said, it’s hard to believe this was 21 years ago, but the Welsh cultural cringe is still strong as ever because even in death Zaha is still dividing opinion. The opera house might well have been elitist, but given the success of the Wales Millennium Centre you can bet it would have been widely visited, used, photographed and eventually tolerated if not loved.

    It’s also another area that Scotland is ahead of us, they have her architecture via the Riverside Museum in Glasgow, and all we have are the opera house plans and a rugby stadium.