Most Impressive Cultural Center Projects in the World
Following my previous article featuring the downloadable PDF eBook When Culture Meets Architecture, I find it useful to share a brief overview of three well-known architectural projects for cultural centers and museum facilities worldwide, designed by the world’s best Architects.
A reminder: In case you didn’t yet get your copy of the PDF file you can still download yours of this valuable document from the link here.
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As mentioned before, I have selected three well-known cultural buildings or museums, that it is useful for everyone to see and know more about them. Those are the following:
- The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture in Saudi Arabia.
- The Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku, Azerbaijan
- The Pompidou Centre, in Paris, France.
Good to note, that the below-cited projects were randomly sorted without any consideration of any kind. So, enjoy your virtual tour with us!
King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture in KSA by Snøhetta
|The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, Photo: Wikipedia
The center which became home to Worldwide various Cultures was inaugurated by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz on December 1, 2016. It is located in Dhahran, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and was designed by Snøhetta, a Norwegian architectural firm.
It is operated by Saudi Aramco and has a clear goal to focus on various human cultures, learning, and cross-cultural activities. An interesting fact though, is that the center’s location was exactly where the first commercial Saudi oilfield was discovered in March 1938. The Center is home to a museum, children's museum, library, cinema, theater, and exhibition halls.
|The King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture designed by Snøhetta, Photo: archdaily.com
Yet, the major purpose of the King Abdulaziz Center is to “make a positive impact on human development by supporting knowledge and encouraging the passion for creativity for a better citizens’ future”; Its goal is to build up the cultural sector in Saudi Arabia in general, along with the Saudi Government's declaration for developing the cultural industries as part of its economic program policy.
The shortening of the center's name and its program is “Ithra’a” which means in Arabic “enrichment”, in a way to indicate that it intends to enrich the cultural knowledge of the Saudi citizens. The project also promotes the tagline: "ACCELERATING POTENTIAL, INSPIRING MINDS."
Nicely designed architectural projects can have the power to affect people in many ways; For example, a well-designed place or building that includes all the services needed can influence people in such a way, same as the religious edifices give or bring reverence for worshipers. This is how architectural projects can interfere with the target and the mission, according to the nature of the project.
|Site Layout and general plan of the center showing various facilities, Photo: https://arquitecturaviva.com
Back to the architectural facts, the building covers about 80,000 square meters with its organic-shaped outline being inspired by the internal structural shape of the rock created from the oil conversion. As mentioned earlier, the Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta was in charge of designing the building, and the UK professional engineering services firm Buro Happold directed the structural design team.
The nation’s memory is represented by Zones communicating with History and the Past, which are at the lowest levels, and below ground level. The ground floor deals with the present and the near future. The higher levels are primarily located and reserved in the construction known as the "Knowledge Tower", with the aim that the information transferred within the tower’s learning rooms will supply citizens with knowledge for the future.
Concerning environmental integration, the building was designed by following LEED standards to minimize the opposition of ecological impact. For instance, the vegetation in the surrounding gardens was selected from its natural environment and intended to minimize the use of water to survive the actual weather conditions.
The Heydar Aliyev Center by Zaha Hadid
The edifice is a 57,500 m2 (619,000 sq ft) building complex in Baku, Azerbaijan designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid and distinct for its curving style architecture and flowing, that avoids usage of sharp angles and straight lines (See picture below). The amazing cultural center was named after Heydar Aliyev, who was the president of the Azerbaijan Republic from October 1993 till October 2003.
In 2007, Hadid was selected as the design architect of the Center after winning a competition. The building is home to a conference hall (auditorium), a gallery hall, and a museum of art. The project is planned and is previewed to play an essential role in the educational and cultural life of Baku. Situated near the downtown, it plays a central role in the redevelopment of the city.
Architecturally speaking, the concept of the Heydar Aliyev Center (shortened HAC) designates an organic shape that emerges by the folding of the landscape's natural topography and by the wrapping of individual functions of the Center. All its functions, in addition to the entrances, are characterized by some kind of waves on a single continuous surface.
This fluid structure allows the connection between the various cultural areas at the same time, giving each element of the building its own identity and privacy. As it folds inside, the skin melts away to become an element of the center interior layout.
|The curved shape distinguishes the center designed by the queen of curves, Photo: Archdaily
Heydar Aliyev Center had an official opening ceremony on 10 May 2012 held by the current president of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.
An internationally recognized architectural work, the HAC has become an iconic landmark of modern Baku thanks to its pioneer and cutting-edge design. Its outstanding conception makes it one of its kind project ever. The “queen of curves” has once again well-deserved her nickname.
Distributed over eight-floor levels, the center also features a 1000-seat auditorium, temporary exhibition areas, a conference center, workshops, and a museum. (See figure below)
|The HAC Ground Floor, Photo by: Archdaily
The building was nominated for awards winning in 2013 at both the "World Architecture Festival" and the "Inside Festival". Later on, the Center won the Museum's Design of the Year Award in 2014 despite concerns about the site's human rights record, which makes Hadid the first woman ever to win the top prize in that competition.
The Centre Pompidou by Richard Rogers and Collaborators
Also known as the Pompidou Centre in English, it is a complex facility in the Beaubourg area of the 4th arrondissement of Paris, rue Montorgueil. It was designed by adopting the high-tech architecture style by the team composed of Architects Richard Rogers, Su Rogers, Renzo Piano, and the collaboration of Gianfranco Franchini.
|The Georges Pompidou Center in Paris, Photo: Wikipedia
The project concept consists of easily managing its interior for more potential and extra space reserved for exhibitions and other cultural activities. That's why the designers had come to the idea to set the structure on the outside of the building therefore freeing the place for more areas to benefit.
As shown in the photos, this method gives the project a high-tech style impression, as well as the usage of the multi-colored piping network appearing on the outer sides of the building along with the ventilation canalization.
|The outside of the center featuring the various colored mechanical installations, Photo: www.legorafi.fr
It houses the Bibliothèque Publique d'Information (French name translation of Public Information Library), which is a huge public library, and the Musée National d'Art Moderne, which is the largest museum for modern art in the whole of Europe, and IRCAM, a center for music and acoustic researches. Because of its location, the Centre is known locally as Beaubourg.
It was named after Georges Pompidou, the French President from 1969 to 1974 who officially authorized the construction of the building, and was opened to the public on 31 January 1977 by President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing.
Since its inauguration and as of 2006, the Centre Pompidou had over 180 million visitors and more than 5,209,678 visitors in 2013 including 3,746,899 for the museum only.
To conclude our tour, I hope you enjoyed and appreciated my selection, and to the next one!