A Metro in the desert
The present population of Riyadh is 5 million people, double that of 1990. To meet this growth, new Metro stations are needed, among them one serving the King Abdullar Financial District, designed by ZHA. Still under construction, the architect conceived it as a multifunctional public space.
Zaha Hadid Archictects (ZHA) are working on 35 projects in over 20 countries. The first posthumous project, the Salerno Maritime Terminal, has already been inaugurated, and three more are expected to be completed before the end of 2016. Next on the list are the Antwerp Port House Scheme in Belgium, the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and the Mathematics Gallery at the Science Museum in London. This last project, with a budget of $12 million, is part of a five-year masterplan for South Kensington. In her design work for the Mathematics Gallery, Zaha wanted “to explore the influence of mathematics in our everyday lives, transforming seemingly abstract concepts into an exciting interactive experience”. The fundamental piece of the gallery will be the experimental Handley Page small plane, a 1929 design that stimulated the study of aerodynamics in those years, and decades later has inspired this architectural project.
In addition to London, the Middle East and Asia have been the markets where Hadid worked most in recent years. For exemple, there are a number of projects currently in progress in Saudi Arabia, including one in Sharjah, where a building with the form of a sand dune is under construction. It stands in the middle of the desert and is being built for Bee’ah, a waste management company in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, Beijing airport, the largest airport in the world, is due to have a new terminal designed by the ZHA studios and capable of handling some 45 million passengers a year. Over in Pnom Penh, the Sleuk Rith Insititute is being built to house the Documentation Centre of Cambodia. The Institute will have five wooden towers, inspired by ancient Angkor constructions, with these to be interwoven with the top floors. It will house a museum, a graduate school, document archives and research library on genocide in Asia.
Also approaching completion on Asian lands is the City of Dreams hotel in Cotai, Macao. When it is opened in 2017, it will occupy 150,000 square metres, have 40 floors and boast 780 guest rooms. The hotel will be enveloped in a net structure and have an imposing lobby atrium. Zaha Hadid presented it as a unified “sculptured unit”, evidence of the philosophy that some of her detractors criticised her for. But her legacy continues to grow, always faithful to the ideas that she proclaimed: “I want to construct buildings that will create a new type of landscape, that flow along with today’s cities and the lives of those who live in them”.