Zaha Hadid’s First Dubai Project The Opus Is Ahead of The Curve

May 9, 2017

Work on The Opus by Zaha Hadid in Business Bay in Dubai is already under way, and reminiscent of the boom days of Dubai before the banking crisis of 2008 hit. Photos Pawan Singh / The National.

Zaha Hadid’s first project in Dubai is a work of art to rival any of the renowned Iraqi-born architect’s award-winning structures, and will add something very different to the city’s burgeoning collection of prestige buildings.

In many ways, a visit to Dubai’s Business Bay feels like a trip back to the future – to a city that feels eerily familiar to anyone who can remember the giddy days before the financial crisis hit in 2008.

Outside, the air rings with the sound of continuous construction and the plots between Sheikh Zayed Road and the Burj Khalifa, long dormant, are now filled with a ballet of workers, lorries and cranes.

Inside the area’s new towers, many of which are topped with the names of their developer, elevators are filled with men dressed in similar fashion: no jackets and crisp, white shirts with collars that are always worn open.

Their shoes, fresh from site visits, are caked in a layer of fine white dust.

Close to the epicentre of this boomtown within a boomtown stands a futuristic building, a glass cube with a gigantic amorphous void at its centre, which manages to feel modest while entirely at home in a cityscape defined by gratuitous acts of architectural shape-making.

Now that it is nearing completion, The Opus – the latest development from Omniyat Properties – will be the first project from Zaha Hadid Architects to have been built in Dubai.

The company is responsible for the Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi, the Olympic Aquatics Centre in London and the MAXXI Museum of XXI Century Arts in Rome.

Despite its appearance, The Opus consists of two glass towers linked by a four-storey podium at ground level, and at a height of 71 metres by an asymmetric steel and glass bridge.

Standing three storeys, 38 metres wide and weighing almost 1,000 tonnes, the bridge and the building’s eight-storey void are clad in 4,500 triple-glazed midnight blue panels.

But thanks to the undulating complexity of the design however, many of the panels are required to curve in two directions which means that every one is unique.

Made of glass from China and aluminium frames from Denmark, the largest panels weigh 800 kilograms each.

The Opus will have 56,000 square feet of office space, a rooftop bar, and a nightclub in its basement, 12 restaurants and ME Dubai, an oddity in the Dubai hospitality market in that it will be a five-star boutique hotel with only 93 guest rooms and 60 apartments.

The first ME by Melia hotels in the Middle East, ME Dubai will become part of an exclusive group of hotels belonging to the Spanish hospitality group that consists of outposts in London, Madrid, Mallorca, Milan, Miami, Ibiza, Cancun and Cabo San Lucas.

The hotel will feature a lobby and central atrium with mezzanines that will rise like the petals of a gigantic flower.

But at the moment the interior of The Opus remains a forest of scaffolding and the only guide to its eventual appearance are the renderings produced by the architects.

Despite the fact that the hotel is not due to open until summer next year, for one man the precise detail of every element of the hotel’s suites and facilities already feels like a reality.

"Being Zaha Hadid, everything is curved and sometimes the design supersedes the functionality so it’s my role to make sure we find the right balance," says Stefan Viard, the new general manager of the ME Dubai.

"From an operations point of view we try to look at the common designs like the wardrobes and the bathrooms to make sure they are standardised as much as possible.

"Because of the shape of the building, we only have 93 rooms, but out of these there are 68 different types."

 

Credits To The National

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