The Harbin Opera House

Situated in China’s northernmost Heilongjiang province, Harbin is an industrial city set amongst a bitterly unforgiving landscape. The last place, therefore, that you would expect to find the sumptuous, sweeping curves of the Harbin Opera House. Designed by MAD Architects, the Opera House seems misplaced from a cityscape of the distant future, featuring a biologically-inspired aluminum exterior that, as envisioned by MAD founder Ma Yansong, “would blend into the winter landscape as a white snow dune arising from the wetlands.”

Dutch architectural photographer Iwan Baan traveled to Harbin in the midst of one of its infamous winters — where temperatures drop to a bone-chilling -30°C (-22°F) — to capture the building as encased by the throes of snow and ice, lending even more to its otherworldly aesthetic.