Arquitectura Viva
Tuesday, June 25, 2019
02/05/2014

More than Style. Zaha Hadid Builds in Baku

News - Arquitectura Viva 161

In the local imagination, the modernization of Azerbaijan and its opening to the West is associated with three milestones: in 1996, after independence, the TV tower of Baku, an icon 310 meters tall, was completed; in 2001, the Azerbaijani abandoned the Cyrillic alphabet for Latin characters; in 2011, Azerbaijan won the Eurovision Song Contest, hosting it in 2012. A fourth could be the opening of the Heydar Aliyev Center, whose cultural program is as ambitious as it is undefined, designed by Zaha Hadid and inaugurated by President Ilham Aliyev in honor of his father, who put the country on the path of ‘modernization’.

Hadid in this way joins the roster of western architects who have worked in Baku in the heat of petrodollars, the same list that features Coop Himmelb(l)au with its undulating Chess Academy or HOK with its faceted high-rises, banal but instrumental in redefining the skyline. Here architectural exuberance is the measure of economic exuberance, and also of an optimism that has as much of the naïve in it as it does, sometimes, of kitsch.

This is not the case of the Aliyev Center, perhaps one of Hadid’s finest works, though it has not ceased to be polemic. Its detractors condemn its self-referential character, iconic banality, and servitude to corrupt power; its defenders praise its formal boldness and its activating an environment still defined by Soviet constructions. All this applies to a center that exceeds the lot in curving terraces to end in a gesture of folds. Beyond geometry are fiberglass-reinforced panels of concrete and plastic (GRC and PRFV), fixed to a sinuous lattice and bonded in accordance with the requirements to be met. As surprising as it may sound, this quality of joints, textures, and patterns is evidence that beyond the white, the curves, and the stylistic clichés, there is technique. Zaha builds, too.

   

AV Monografías 215 - BAUMSCHLAGER EBERLE AV Monographs
analyzes in each issue a theme related to a city, a country, a tendency or an architect, with articles by leading specialists complemented by commentary on works and projects illustrated in detail. Published bilingually, with Spanish and English texts placed side by side.
Arquitectura Viva 214 - JEAN NOUVEL Arquitectura Viva
covers current topics, taking stock of recent trends in set sections: cover story, works and projects, art and culture, books, technique and innovation. From 2013 on, monthly and bilingual, with Spanish and English texts printed side by side.
AV Proyectos 92 - ECOSISTEMA URBANO AV Proyectos
is the third member of the AV family: a bilingual publication essentially focussed on design projects (with special attention on competitions and construction details), heretofore only laterally dealt with in the other two magazines.
;
Editorial Arquitectura Viva SL - Calle de Aniceto Marinas, 32 - E-28008 Madrid, España - Ph: (+34) 915 487 317 - Fax: (+34) 915 488 191 - AV@ArquitecturaViva.com - Latest News in RSS