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The Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center is a cultural center named after the former president of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev; the project houses a conference hall, library, and museum; located close to the center of the city, it is part of a larger project, aiming the development of the Baku’s cultural and intellectual life.
The cultural project extends to the surroundings as well; the space encircling the building is designated for residential, offices, a hotel and commercial center, and the space between them is meant to become a Cultural Plaza, a place people would gladly visit and be attracted to. Being placed in the middle of a large, free space in the middle of a city, the fluid design of the Azerbaijan Cultural Centre becomes an element that organizes and gives meaning to every surrounding element. Especially beacuse of the contrast generated by its form and chromatics and the previously existing architecture.
“It is difficult in general to build something that extraordinary in a remote country where even very basic tools must be imported sometimes.”
Thomas Winterstetter, Werner Sobek
The concept at the base of the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center is dominated by the idea of topography. The designers attempted to create a dialogue between the fluid form of the building and the landscape. The wave-like shapes of the building were chosen with a great amount of precision: each houses a different function and has its own identity and meaning but when put together, they create a continuous undulating surface, molded by the various parts of the building. This shape is ideal for this type of project, with different, independent programs because it allows a significant amount of freedom when connecting them.The exterior surface becomes part of the interior design too; as it folds inside, the inward curl takes the shape of stairs enabling movement between the lower floors to the mezzanine levels, allowing a continuous, uninterrupted circulation. The exterior fluidity of the ensemble was dictated by the necessity of natural light too, the glass facades ensuring a proper interior lighting.
“We focused, for example, on easy-to-clean external cladding materials because of the heavy air pollution… There are oil refineries and such nearby, and the cladding is white. That’s how glass fiber reinforced plastic (GFRP) came up, which is dirt-repellent itself. In general, all building systems are chosen to have high durability and a long lifetime and low maintenance efforts.”
Thomas Winterstetter, Werner Sobek
Zaha Hadid Architects have already declared there own, unique style which consists of gently curves combined with new materials and technology. This a perfect example for their talent; What I really appreciated though is that they haven’t concentrated only on the exterior or the interior of the Azerbaijan Cultural Centre but have treated both in the same manner, showing interest in the design as a whole.
photo courtesy to Zaha Hadid Architects
site area: 111,292 m2
built area: 52,417 m2
foot print: 15,514 m2
project architect: saffet kaya
project team: marc boles, shiqi li, sara sheikh akbari, phil kim, yelda gin,
liat muller, deniz manisali, lillie liu, jose lemos, simone fuchs, jose ramon tramoyeres,
yu du, tahmina parvin, erhan patat, fadi mansour, jaime bartolome, josef glas,
ifeanyi oganwu, michael grau, deepti zachariah, ceyhun baskin, daniel widrig,
main contractor: DIA
structural: AKT, tuncel engineers
space frame: mro
facade: werner sobek
mechanical: GMD engineers
fire: etik engineering
people movers: MBE ltd. co.