London-based Zaha Hadid, widely regarded as one of the leading lights in the constellation of avant-garde architecture, has likewise become a superstar in China, where her latest designs radiate out through architecture schools and studios across the country. On a recent trip to Beijing, 15,000 artists, architects and other fans swarmed to a talk she gave for the opening of the futuristic Galaxy SOHO complex — just one of 11 projects she is designing across the country.

But the appeal of the Prtizker Prize winner’s experimental architecture, especially since the unveiling of her glowing, crystalline Guangzhou Opera House two years ago, has expanded so explosively that a contingent of pirate architects and construction teams in southern China is now building a carbon copy of one of Hadid’s Beijing projects.

What’s worse, Hadid said in an interview, she is now being forced to race these pirates to complete her original project first.

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