Zaha Hadid's flowing Heydar Aliyev Center named Design of the Year for 2014

The cultural center is the first architectural project to win the Design Museum's top prize. 
July 01, 2014 |
Photo credit: Iwan Baan. Photos courtesy of Design Museum.
The Design Museum's Design of the Year Award for 2014 has been awarded to Zaha Hadid's Heydar Aliyev Center. Hadid is not only the first woman to win the top prize, but the center is the first architectural project to win the overall competition. 
The building, full of undulating curves and large glass windows to let in lots of natural light, is located in Baku, Azerbaijan. It serves as the primary building for many of the nation's cultural programs. 
"We’re absolutely delighted to receive the Design of the Year Award. The surface of the Heydar Aliyev Centre’s external plaza rises and folds to define a sequence of public event spaces within; welcoming, embracing and directing visitors throughout the building," said Hadid. "It’s an architectural landscape where concepts of seamless spatial flow are made real – creating a whole new kind of civic space for the city."
The Design of the Year prize was awarded by a panel of experts; over 70 designs were nominated across all categories (Architecture, Digital, Fashion, Furniture, Graphics, Product and Transport). All nominated designs will be displayed in an exhibition at the Design Museum until August 25.
There was another first among the winners this year: Phonebloks, designed by Dave Hakkens, won the first Social Vote, which allowed the global public to vote on all of the design entries and choose their own winner. Phonebloks is a design project meant to encourage the mobile phone industry to cut electronic waste out of their designs and make a more lasting product.  
A few of the judges on why they chose the Heydar Aliyev Center:
Kim Colin, Industrial Facility said: ‘A great architect needs a great client, technology, the public, the landscape and the right time. The jury felt that for Zaha's office, this is a pinnacle moment in their portfolio, a sign of international maturity. The jury argued heatedly for and against, and then we finally agreed unanimously that the project deserves our utmost respect. This architecture should make us talk for years to come.’
Photo Credit: Iwan Baan; photos courtesy Design Museum
Ben Terrett, Government Digital Service said: ‘It's a stunning, iconic building. One thing that struck me was how it really feels like the swooping curves are the structure. Too often with this type of design it's a facade of something interesting put on top of the usual box. This is different.’
Photo Credit: Iwan Baan; photos courtesy Design Museum
Nick Perry, Head of London, Bird & Bird said: ‘This is a truly remarkable piece of architecture. Designs of the Year exists to find and celebrate work such as this, and the breadth and depth of work which has been celebrated is testament to the diverse nature of design. Innovation and design are of huge importance to business, and all of the individuals involved have demonstrated exceptional insight and skill. We are thrilled to have been involved in supporting Designs of the Year this year.’
Photo Credit: Iwan Baan; photos courtesy Design Museum
Project Credits:
Zaha Hadid Architects
Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher
with Saffet Kaya Bekiroglu
Project Architect:
Saffet Kaya Bekiroglu
Project Team:
Sara Sheikh Akbari, Shiqi Li, Phil Soo Kim, Marc Boles, Yelda Gin, Liat Muller, Deniz Manisali, Lillie Liu, Jose Lemos, Simone Fuchs, Jose Ramon Tramoyeres, Yu Du, Tahmina Parvin, Erhan Patat, Fadi Mansour, Jaime Bartolome, Josef Glas, Michael Grau, Deepti Zachariah, Ceyhun Baskin, Daniel Widrig
Special thanks to Charles Walker
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