The fourth part in an extended series of entries about the architect, this entry will also lead toward application of the above subtitle to human cultural processes as I play with metamodernism. In particular I will discuss Zaha Hadid’s plans for the Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Center, part of the 270 Hectacre cultural district of Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi in relation to growth, organization and entropy in both organic and cultural processes.
The structure of the Performing Arts Center creates its own dichotomy because it is based on botanical imagery, a curvilinear crystalline metal and glass structure that is alien to thousands of years of architectural history. I don’t want the reader to take that as a negative, instead it should be understood as uncomplicated observation. Let me explain - if anywhere in the Western world you ask a 5-year old child to draw a house, you obtain the following image.
The pentagonal structure made up of a triangle-topped square is almost architectonic in that it is permanently constructed in each and every mind. The entire history of architecture in the West is based almost completely on rectangular and triangular structures – until now. Hadid’s work is not the only work that occupies this organic free form and/or abstract shape territory. There is a list of architects whose works in part can be described as “blobitecture.” Still others, like Frank Gehry, whose structures look as though the rectangle and triangle have been folded through a many layered but curved 4th dimension. However, Hadid’s smoothly extruded curved forms are the only ones that appear to be based purely in botanical processes. The Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Center specifically appears to be based on a vine or tree with leafing branches that reach for the sparkle of reflected light from the water surrounding Saadiyat Island. The contrast between traditional structures and these botanically based constructs is so startling as to seem alien when first encountered, belying the appearance that the metallic and glass behemoths grow from a seed beneath the earth’s crust.
I’ve incorporated and documented a few images in this blog entry, but there is such a plethora of these Web images and text about them that it might behoove the reader to do some exploring of his/her own in order to discover the complexity of the design and its roots in growth, organization and entropy.
To be Continued
Hadid, Zaha, with Introduction by Aaron Betsky. New York: Rizzoli, 2009.
Hadid, Zaha, Zaha Hadid Architects. at http://www.zaha-hadid.com/. Viewed 10:35 AM, EDT, Sunday, August 28, 2011.
Zaha Hadid, Google at http://www.google.com/. Viewed 10:39 AM EDT, Sunday, August 28, 2011.
* “Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Center by Zaha Hadid,” in Archinomy: Bridging the Gap, at http://www.archinomy.com/. Viewed 10:31 EDT, Sunday, August, 28, 2011. It is known that the use of images for one time scholarly purposes is legal under United States Copyright law.