Zaha Hadid: King Abdullah II House of Culture & Art

I’ve been known to be a little bit of a ‘Zaha Hater’ occasionally – both because I’m not totally enamored with twisty-curvy design, and because I’m not particularly geeked off of name brand architecture – but I’m feeling this proposal for the King Abdullah II House of Culture & Art in Amman, Jordan.

Inspired by the eroded forms of Petra, the House of Culture & Art is a simple volume stretching along the highway – from which the internal spaces are ‘eroded’, creating a curvilinear interior to a mostly-rectilinear structure. The project includes a 1600-seat concert hall, 400-seat theatre, educational centre, rehearsal rooms, and galleries. The large, eroded void in the mass of the building marks the public spaces – which connect to a series of exterior plazas [that will even extend beneath the highway – see the video below]. This public space then also serves to distinguish between the two main program elements – the large concert hall at the end of the volume [all the way to the left of the image above], and the smaller theatre which seems to hang above the main entry space [the right end of the volume in the image above].

There’s also some kind of transparency / translucency being achieved in some of the more solid-appearing parts of the volume, although I’m not really sure as of yet what’s going on there.

The architectural expression for the new performing arts centre has been inspired by the magnificent ancient city of Petra explains Zaha Hadid. “Petra is an astonishing example of the wonderful interplay between architecture and nature, as well as the intricate complexity and elegance of natural forms – the rose-colored mountain walls have been eroded, carved and polished to reveal the astonishing strata of sedimentation. We have applied these principles to articulate the public spaces within the centre, with eroded interior surfaces that extend into the public plaza in front of the building.”

~ Zaha Hadid Architects

One thing that concerns me is that while this long, almost over-sized, volume seems appropriate for facing a highway, it seems as if the building might be ‘turning its back’ on the neighborhood on its other side [watch the YouTube video below to see what I’m talking about]. However, I have no idea what the neighborhood is, or if it should be addressed in another way – it’s just my initial reaction to seeing the animation below.


Unfortunately I can’t find any plans / sections yet – but I’m sure they’ll start popping up on these here interwebs soon enough [not that anyone seems to care about that sort of thing anymore, unfortunately]. Construction is scheduled to begin sometime in 2012.

Posted: March 2nd, 2010
at 11:38am by orangemenace

Tagged with , , ,

Categories: architecture,starchitects

Comments: 4 comments


4 Responses to 'Zaha Hadid: King Abdullah II House of Culture & Art'

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  1. I dunno… I always thought the reason that Petra’s so amazing is the fact that it’s IN a cliff. Not a steel frame box. The materiality, relation to the horizon, heaviness of the cliffside, and almost anonymity of its location are what I think of in relation to Petra. To even attempt a conceptual relation to the qualities of Petra without somehow going ‘all the way’ (at the least pushing it further than this) seems a little disingenuous. Which I would say is par for the course with the office (myself also being a bit of a ‘hater’).

    The building, as always, makes for some pretty perspectives though. If it gets built (big IF, again with this office), it’ll be… interesting to see the materiality develop.


    2 Mar 10 at 7:56 pm


  2. Very true, although much of the area surrounding Petra exists due to erosion, which created the context for embedding it in the cliff face – but yeah, point taken, and I agree.

    I also agree that I imagine this is going to be much different IF built. One thing in particular that kind of bothers me is the suggestion that the glass will allow for this ‘eroded’ feeling, which seems to contradict the actual qualities of glass – especially at the scale needed for this project.

    But yeah, I kind of love it from the outside in the images / video, regardless.


    2 Mar 10 at 8:18 pm


  3. I think its pretty ridiculous to spend all your time ‘inventing’ a building with only curves and then to put in an “box” auditorium with seating in rows and columns.

    Mark Anthony

    3 Mar 10 at 10:50 am


  4. This building possesses a wonderful project. She is one of my favorite architects.

    Stela Savage

    4 Mar 10 at 1:20 am



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