Heydar Aliyev Centre, Baku, Azerbaijan | The Architect’s Empire


Heydar Aliyev Centre, Baku

Location: Baku, Azerbaijan

Architect:  Zaha Hadid Architects

Maximum Height: 74m

Built-up Area: 101,801m2

Number of Floors: 9



night view
Image ©Zaha Hadid Architects

Heydar Aliyev Centre, a cultural centre is located in the capital city of Azerbaijan, Baku. In 2007, Zaha Hadid appointed as the architect of Heydar Aliyev Centre. The construction started in 2007 and completed in 2012. The capital city Baku has a wildly varying architecture, which ranges from the old city core to modern buildings and has a great Soviet architecture influence. Therefore, after the independence in 1991, Azerbaijan started investing in the capital city in modernising and developing the infrastructure of Baku. That is why the client asked for the building to be modern. Consequently, the centre became the primary cultural hub for the country. The cultural centre features a conference hall, library and museum.


Image ©Zaha Hadid Architects

The concept behind the Heydar Aliyev Centre is to represent the fluidity and continuity between the structure and the landscape’s natural topography. The plaza, and functions of the centre, with the entrances, folds up into one single continuous surface. The fluid form connects various activity areas, and moreover, welcomes and directs the visitors to celebrate the contemporary and traditional Azeri culture.


The design comprised of three activity areas- conference hall, library and museum.  The three spaces have separate entrances and security areas. Whereas, they even share a common space within the structure as well. Let’s discuss each activity area in detail:


The convention centre serves both the convention and music performance space. The convention centre has 4 levels embracing two multifunctional conference halls, meeting rooms, and the media centre. It consists of an auditorium with 1200 seats. The height of the auditorium is 18meters, and approximately has a  span of 28 meters. The auditorium supported by concrete shear walls around the space, which further makes the space column-free.  In order to achieve a large span, a two-way system used within the ceiling and has a steel space frame. To meet the acoustical and lighting requirements, gypsum board supported by cables is present in the internal surface of the ceiling. Different sizes of cross-bracing used, to resist the lateral force and to provide stiffness to the structure.  

A continuous large space has been provided in the first and the second floor, which transfers the self-weight to narrow reinforced concrete beams and columns at the base. This further transfers to the pile foundation of the structure.

Image ©Zaha Hadid Architects



The museum has 9 levels, consisting of exhibition halls, administrative office, restaurant and a cafeteria. Space carries a permanent gallery, and also a temporary exhibition gallery. A double-height space lobby on the entrance of the temporary exhibition gallery welcomes the visitor. The slab is kept very thin of about 8-13mm thickness covering the ceiling, which further reduces the self-weight load transferring to the foundation. The internal space is column-free and has a large span. This got possible by providing two-way concrete waffle slab within the structure, which has a height of nearly 2.2 metres.

The permanent gallery is divided by a tilt shear wall, offering two spaces. These divided spaces help in achieving a column-free space within the permanent gallery. Moreover, this also eases the transferring of dead and live loads to the mat foundation beneath the structure.

Image ©Zaha Hadid Architects


In the north of the site, we have a library which has 8-stories. It has an external building skin in its facade. The shear walls present on the four sides, support the 120mm thick reinforced concrete slab. Further, this slab supported by the beams placed at every 3.5 meters and with a depth of 0.8 metres. An AHU room is also present that sits on 1.2-metre mat foundation, spanning 21.6 metres and with a height of 9 metres.

Overall,  to achieve a fluid-like geometry within the interior of the building, various structural elements have been introduced. The shape of the columns is carved into ‘boot columns’ to achieve inverse peel of the surface from the ground to the West of the building. Whereas, to support the building envelope to the East of the site, the cantilever beams are tapered in a ‘dovetail’ form.

Image ©Zaha Hadid Architects



Image ©Zaha Hadid Architects



The overall construction used 121,000 m3 of reinforced concrete, 194,000 tons formwork, and 19,000 tons of mild steel. The outer skin used 5,500 tons of structural steel, which creates the 40,000 m2 basis area for fibreglass reinforced polyester panels or concrete panels. Use of total 17,000 individual panels with different geometries. For cladding, glass fibre reinforced concrete (GFRC) and glass fibre reinforced polyester (GFRP) act as an ideal cladding material. These increased the plasticity of the building’s design and moreover, helped in responding well to the different functional spaces such as plazas, transitional zones and envelope.


Image ©Zaha Hadid Architects


In conclusion, the cultural centre is now the biggest tourist attraction in Baku, because of its modern style features that attract more visitors.

Zaha Hadid is a big inspiration for architects. To know more about her works, also visit:

Qatar 2022 Al Janoub FIFA World Cup Stadium

Galaxy Soho, Beijing, China


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