Zaha Hadid-designed projects receive award-winning recognition from RIBA

Selected from 30 projects from around the world, the Jockey Club Innovation Tower in Hong Kong designed by Zaha Hadid Architects has won a RIBA Award for International Excellence – while the company’s Heydar Aliyev Center, in Baku, is shortlisted for the RIBA International Prize.

The Jockey Club Innovation Tower (pictured) is home to the Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s School of Design, and the Jockey Club Design Institute for Social Innovation.

The 15 storey tower accommodates more than 1,800 students and staff, with facilities for design education and innovation that include: design studios, labs and workshops, exhibition areas, multi-functional classrooms, lecture theatre and communal lounge.

“The tower’s interior and exterior courtyards create informal spaces to meet and interact, complementing the large exhibition forums, studios, theatre and recreational facilities,” said ZHA.

“Its design promotes a multidisciplinary environment by connecting the variety of programs within the School of Design, encouraging interaction between the many learning clusters and design disciplines.”

Built on the site of a Soviet munitions factory in Azerbaijan, the Heydar Aliyev Center’s fluid architecture embodies an enlightened philosophical framework.

ZHA said: “Breaking from rigid and often monumental Soviet architecture that is so prevalent in Baku, its open forms promise to open and engage Azeri culture with an act of attraction rather than imposition. The centre’s fluid exterior surfaces rise from its surroundings to define a series of exhibition and performance spaces within, inviting the urban fabric of the city into the heart of building.”

Named ‘Design of the Year by London’s Design Museum, the centre was cited as “a masterwork of invention and execution,” and since opening, has hosted exhibitions by Azeri and international artists such as Andy Warhol, Tony Cragg and Bernard Buffet.

The centre has also held performances of opera by Alessandro Safina, jazz by Deedee Bridgewater, experimental music by Kiatro and violin by Itzhak Perlman. On his recent visit to Baku, Pope Francis addressed religious leaders and local residents in the centre’s theatre.