Heydar Aliyev Center by Zaha Hadid

Zaha HadidImage courtesy of Iwan Baan

Heydar Aliyev Center by Zaha Hadid

In 2007, Zaha Hadid architects won a competition to develop the Heydar Aliyev Center in the city of Baku, Azerbaijan, which would stand as the country’s primary building for hosting the former Soviet nation’s cultural programs.

Zaha HadidImage courtesy of Iwan Baan

In realizing the majestic structure, Zaha Hadid has employed a sinuous geometry throughout the entirety of the design that sets it apart from the typically rigid and monumental Soviet architecture that already defines Baku. Historically, Islamic architecture consists of a composition of rows, grids or sequences of columns that collectively form a non-hierarchal space; while calligraphic and ornamental patterns flow from carpets and walls to ceilings to domes, establishing a seamless relationship between structural elements and the environment in which they are placed. It was the firm’s intention to take this understanding of architecture, and develop it as a contemporary interpretation of these points.

Zaha HadidImage courtesy of Hufton + Crow

Elaborating on the idea of creating a fluid relationship between the building and its connecting programs, the expansive outdoor piazza is accessible to all aspects of Baku’s urban fabric, and rises from the ground enhanced by bifurcations, folds, undulations and inflections that modify its planar surface into a landscape that serves many functions: welcoming, embracing and directing visitors inwards; thus blurring the differentiation between architectural object and urban topography.

Zaha HadidImage courtesy of Iwan Baan

In wanting to make the Heydar Aliyev Center appear as if it was emerging out of its surrounding public plaza uninterrupted, Zaha Hadid has sited the architectural development of the building’s skin as being one of the most critical, and also most challenging elements in the establishment of the scheme. A broad range of different functions, construction logistics and technical systems, in addition to advanced computing, were integrated into the building’s envelope used to achieve a surface that appears homogenous; achieved through the installment of glass fibre reinforced concrete and glass fibre reinfored polyester panels.

Zaha HadidImage courtesy of Hufton + Crow

A concrete structure, combined with a space frame system has allowed the architects to achieve an interior that is composed of large-scale column-free spaces, whereby the vertical structural elements are hidden within the envelope and curtain wall system. To emphasize the continuous relationship between the structure’s exterior and interior, the lighting of Heydar Aliyev Center has been carefully considered so that the reading of the building differs during the day, than at night. In its completion, the Heydar Aliyev Center stands as a new landmark for the city, that while still being distinct in its own right, culturally reaches out and articulates its relationship to its embedded context, representing the bright future of Azerbaijan’s capital.

more. www.zaha-hadid.com

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