Baku Azerbaijan a land uncharacterized by any singular architectural style is the setting for Zaha Hadid’s latest opus, The Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre. A government commissioned work, the project was heralded as a building of national importance given Baku’s attempt to host the 2016 Olympics. With the bid coming and going to Rio de Janeiro, the Cultural Centre continues on as a landmark for Azerbaijan’s capital city as well as a symbol of the country’s emergence amongst the world’s wealthiest.

The curvilinear form is engendered from the manipulation of the landscape’s natural topography. The skin undulates across the site, wrapping the various spaces before folding into the interior to become ground. With the floors cascading from one to another, and then connecting to the ramps, the circulation embodies the generative qualities of the skin, creating a continuous path across the interior. The landscape of the interior seamlessly continues beyond the building obscuring the figure-ground relationship.

In addition to becoming a landmark for Baku, the Centre will also function as a major venue for the city. The Hadid design will house a conference hall with three auditoriums, a library and a museum. The bordering sites have been designated for residential, office, and commercial uses, further emphasizing the significance of the Centre.

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