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For the sixth annual AZ Awards, our intrepid jury narrowed the field from over 800 submissions, received from dozens of countries, to select just 48 finalists that stood above the rest. In addition to presenting the AZ Award winners, Azure recognized these projects, products and concepts with Awards of Merit.

MAD Architects’ 1,600-seat venue is to northeastern China what the Guggenheim is to Bilbao. The design, with its swooping, curvilinear forms, owes a debt to Gehry, if only a small one, but the bigger influence is the Manchurian landscape, with its winding rivers and billows of snow. Patrons enter through the lobby, which is lit up with a curtain wall made from miniature glass pyramids, and find their seats in a theatre built from swelling masses of local ash. As well, a narrow promenade is cut into the aluminum-clad exterior, giving visitors a thrilling new way to explore the site.

Location: Harbin, China

Firm: MAD Architects, China

Team: Ma Yansong, Yosuke Hayano and Dang Qun, with Jackob Beer, Fu Changrui, Zheng Fang, Daniel Gillen, Liu Huiying, Jordan Kanter, Kin Li, Sohith Perera, J Travis Russett, Julian Sattler, Bas van Wylick and Zhao Wei ­

Harbin Opera house

Explore more Award Winners

Award of MeritBuildings Over 1,000SqM
Yangzhou, China
Neri&Hu Design and Research Office, China
Award of MeritBuildings Over 1,000SqM
Aarhus, Denmark
Henning Larsen Architects with GPP Arkitekter, Denmark
WinnerBuildings Over 1,000SqM
Jingdezhen, China
Studio Zhu-Pei, Beijing, China