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Designer of the week

Best architectural design of 2014: Zaha Hadid’s Heydar Aliyev Centre

Zaha Hadid’s Heydar Aliyev Centre in Baku has won the architecture category of the Designs of the Year awards.

Hadid was jointly credited with Patrik Schumacher as winners of the Design Museum award.

Zaha Hadid Architects was appointed as design architects of the Heydar Aliyev Center following a competition in 2007. The Center, designed to become the primary building for the nation’s cultural programs, breaks from the rigid and often monumental Soviet architecture that is so prevalent in Baku, aspiring instead to express the sensibilities of Azeri culture and the optimism of a nation that looks to the future.


Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre, Baku, Azerbaijan, by Zaha Hadid

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Design concept

The design of the Heydar Aliyev Center establishes a continuous, fluid relationship between its surrounding plaza and the building’s interior. The plaza, as the ground surface; accessible to all as part of Baku’s urban fabric, rises to envelop an equally public interior space and define a sequence of event spaces dedicated to the collective celebration of contemporary and traditional Azeri culture. Elaborate formations such as undulations, bifurcations, folds, and inflections modify this plaza surface into an architectural landscape that performs a multitude of functions: welcoming, embracing, and directing visitors through different levels of the interior. With this gesture, the building blurs the conventional differentiation between architectural object and urban landscape, building envelope and urban plaza, figure and ground, interior and exterior.

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The building in the Azeri capital was picked from a shortlist by a jury that included Piers Gough of CZWG.

Hadid’s design beat a raft of other shortlisted entries, including 6a’s facade for a Paul Smith shop in Mayfair, Alison Brooks’ housing in Harlow, John Pawson’s church in Augsburg and David Chipperfield’s Museuo Jumex in Mexico.

The overall Design of the Year will be announced on June 30 from the winners of all the categories – architecture, digital, fashion, furniture, graphics, product and transport.

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