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Coming in from the cold: architecture on ice

Northern China can be unforgiving in winter. But like so many other frigid landscapes it provides an ideal backdrop to the fluid shapes of modern architecture.

Words Christopher Beanland
Photograph Adam Mørk and Hufton+Crow

Cold, harsh landscapes have always presented humans with challenges, not least when it comes to buildings. But environments which were once hostile to all but the most basic of dwellings, now provide architects with beautiful canvases for their ideas.

The Harbin Opera House in China, which sought a Beijing firm to blend the structure into the snowy surrounds, was inspired by its bleak environment rather than hindered by it.

In the city of Harbin, Beijing’s MAD Architects have made a new opera house perfectly in tune with its surroundings. Covered in white aluminium panels, when it snows, it’s hard to see where the land starts and the building ends. MAD say it looks like it was ‘sculpted in wind and water’.

We just say it looks beautiful.

Harbin Opera House’s endless curves provide a contrast to the rigid angles of the city’s tower blocks

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