Wednesday, September 12, 2012

ZAHA HADID: PERFORMING ARTS CENTER, ABU DHABI


ESPAÑOL

The Performing Arts Center and the Sheikh Zayed Bridge are two of the most important projects being carried out in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and are designed by the renowned architect Zaha Hadid of Iraqi origin.

Because of its affinity with Rem Koolhaas and OMA Office for Metropolitan Architecture, where she began as an apprentice before starting her own studio, Zaha Hadid's style has been labeled as deconstructivist, perhaps due to the apparent fragmentation depicted in her paintings, which are the conceptual maps foe her designs.

Zaha Hadid's conceptual paintings for Rome and for the Opera in Cardiff Bay, a project that won a contest but it was never built.

As in the case of Gehry, I think Hadid's is embedded of an artistic nature (although she has explicitly refused to be called an artist in an interview with Charles Rose). Her works convey a sense of energy, with dynamic lines, sometimes related to aerospace design. The sculptural shapes, the sensual curves. both stylish and vigorous (I am talking just about the architect's designs) have led Zaha Hadid to become the first woman to receive the prestigious Pritzker Prize in 2004, the highest award in architecture.

PERFORMING ARTS CENTER.


"As it winds through the site, the architecture increases in complexity, building up height and depth and achieving multiple summits in the bodies housing the performance spaces, which spring from the structure like fruits on a vine and face westward, toward the water"
Zaha Hadid.

Since that spectacular Sydney Opera House, designed by Jørn Utzon, there has been a fascination for placing stunning performing arts facilities on waterfronts (although on the other hand, this is not new, many Greek and Roman theaters were located facing superb views towards the sea). Belfast , Oslo, Singapore and Copenhagen are examples. Even Paul Andreu surrounded China's National Theatre in Beijing by water as it was far from the riverfront (Hadid herself has an interesting unbuilt opera in Cardiff Bay, Wales ).


In the island of Saadiyat, Zaha Hadid's proposal audaciously craves to join this select "club of waterfront venues" and does so with a building that looks ready to dive into the water. From the urban pespective, the Performing Arts Center is located perpendicular to a large coastal boulevard, which is crossed by a footbridge leading to the building.


The architect has been inspired by organic themes or nature for the conception of her work, and in fact this building might resemble a group of cosmic eels in frantic race, or a branch extending in several buds. Looking at it in more detail, it is clearly the intention of making a volumetric  transition from the cultural district to the waterfront. The building thus establishes a gradual differentiation of domains.


The facade of the building expresses this allegory with the natural world, where both the structure and the openings resemble plant elements, such as leaves and branches.


"The Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Centre’s distinct formal language is derived from a set of typologies evident in organizational systems and growth in the natural world. These natural scenarios are formed by energy being supplied to enclosed systems, and the subsequent decrease in energy caused when organized structures develop in nature. 
The ‘energy’ of the Performing Arts Centre is symbolized by the predominant movements in the urban fabric along the central axis of the pedestrian corridor and the cultural centre’s seafront promenade – the site’s two intersecting primary elements."

This project contains 5 halls, placing the main Concert Hall on top of four other smaller theaters. Additionally, it houses the headquarters of the Academy of Performing Arts.

The arrangement of the theaters follow the flow of the overall design but both are organized around a central space to create areas from which one can contemplate impressive vistas. Also, north of the building there is a restaurant under a large terrace.


One aspect to highlight is the inclusion of large windows in the halls, allowing the entry of light and magnificent views of the city, going back, as I said, the spirit of the ancient Greek theaters. I imagine, however, that Hadid must have taken into account a strict environmental  design. Let us not forget that this is Abu Dhabi, where summers can reach up to 50 °C. It would not be very efficient to create an eye-catching "greenhouse" and then spend money on energy to refrigerate it. In any case, she probably will use some kind of special glass, which prevents the entry of harmful solar radiation but allows a clear perception of the environment, as it was done in the Burj Khalifa, formerly Burj Dubai.


Moreover, despite her Arab roots, it seems that the architect has focused more on designing a building "Zaha Hadid style" rather than a building in Abu Dhabi, as there is no reference to its landscape or culture. Basically, this fine object could be located anywhere in the world.

SHEIK ZAYED BRIDGE

Abu Dhabi is an island separated from the rest of the country. In 1967 an arch bridge was built connecting the island with the rest of the country, opposite to this tower in the vicinity of the Al Maqta Fort. With the development of Abu Dhabi it became necessary to build a new bridge to improve the emirate's road system connection.


Zaha Hadid proposed a very particular bridge whose structure consists of ribbons to develop a sinusoidal shape, while sustaining the bridge deck, achieving a dynamic sculptural effect. The length of the bridge is 842 m, with a longest span of 140 m.



Satellite views of the bridge in 2004, 2007 and 2010. Progress is slow. Google Earth images. 



Note that the highways will be anchored to the main structure, maintaining clarity and simplicity in the formal composition of the design.




During my visit to Abu Dhabi in 2009 the bridge was still under construction. It was finished in 2010.




Photos courtesy of scc video.


Zaha Hadid is also known for developing a Bridge Pavilion in Zaragoza, Spain, a pedestrian structure, which achieved a good reception from the critics.




SEE ALSO

- Concert Halls
- Notable Bridges



9 comments:

  1. I love that little building! and you have nicely captured the character of it.

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  2. With the development of Abu Dhabi it became necessary to build a new bridge to improve the emirate's road system connection.

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  3. It looks like a fish ready to jump in the water. Really unique design.


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