Baku: brand signature

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Heydar Aliyev Cente in Baku, made by Zaha Hadid. Photo: Natalia Maiboroda

I never wanted to go to Baku, until Zaha Hadid created her statement building in Azerbaijan’s capital. The futuristic construction situated not in the very center. But it makes people travel out of the historical part, also beyond Soviet way of thinking. 

 

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Heydar Aliyev Cente in Baku, made by Zaha Hadid. Photo: Natalia Maiboroda

Zaha Hadid’ building is a fantastic piece of architecture, built in 2012 after 5 years of construction. It is named after Heydar Aliyev, who ruled Azerbaijan during the Soviet era and became its first president in 1991. Today Heydar Aliyev Center hosts exhibitions, concerts and other cultural events. Surprisingly, it situated on Heydar Aliyev Boulevard. The locals say that when you look at the construction from the top you see the silhouette of the former President’s signature. Do you see it? I don’t. 

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Heydar Aliyev’s signature. Photo: Wikipedia

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Zaha Hadid’s Heydar Aliyev centre. The view from the top. Photo: Zaha Hadid’ website. http://www.zaha-hadid.com/architecture/heydar-aliyev-centre/

On my way to Baku I read “Baku” – the magazine about luxury, run by Leyla Aliyeva. She is the first daughter of the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev. She is also the grantdaughter of Heydar Aliyev. One article catched my attention, saying that Heydar Aliyev Center is the most favourite work of British-Iraqi architect. Who knows, but the building features Hadid’s signature curves. For this work Zaha has won the Design Museum Design of the Year Award.

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Heydar Aliyev Cente in Baku, made by Zaha Hadid. Photo: Natalia Maiboroda

I had only few minutes to enjoy it. Actually, only 10 minutes. One hour before the departure to the airport I took a taxi to see this masterpiece. It was a rush hour, so I spent more time on the road than expected. When I arrived, the air was melting (35C). So did I.

4Someone calls the building “Marilyn’s blown skirt”. Others find it as a spaceship. For me the building reminds 57,000-square metre iceberg – white and massive. But unlike other construction, that froze in the space, Zaha Hadid’s construction moove the space due to curvy walls. 

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Heydar Aliyev Cente in Baku, made by Zaha Hadid. Photo: Natalia Maiboroda

I guess the building was very shocking for locals who used for Soviet massive architecture. When your town has been demonstrated conservative way of thinking in architecture, it must be very controvercial to find out that architecture can be creative. Surrounded by impressive buildings, you must felt very small and uninfluential. I wonder what locals felt when they saw this construction, full of air and freedom. 

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Heydar Aliyev Cente in Baku, made by Zaha Hadid. Photo: Natalia Maiboroda

But the building shocked not only locals. It got worldwide publicity due to several reasons. First of all, it costed Azerbaijan $250 mln. It is modest fortune for oil-rich country, but for this money you could improve health system in the whole state. Secondly, they destroyed 250 homes without given sufficient compensation for its residents. They even didn’t asked locals – they demolished buidings with people still inside. Finally, the international scandal occured when they found out about human traffick case. Migrants from Bosnia and Serbia had to construct the buiding with their passports confiscated. You may only guess the level of labour conditions they had been working. 

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Around Heydar Aliyev Cente in Baku, made by Zaha Hadid. Photo: Natalia Maiboroda

Maybe this is one of the reasons why the building is badly done. Only 4 years passed after its construction, but the interior looks timeworn. The friend of mine, who was lucky to enter it, told me that they do not allow you to make picture inside, because it looks terrible. She also told me that you could enter only on rare occasions. I didn’t have such opportunity. But 10 minutes convinced me that Zaha Hadid’ building is the main reason for visiting Baku. It was and it still is. 

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Heydar Aliyev Cente in Baku, made by Zaha Hadid. Photo: Natalia Maiboroda

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Heydar Aliyev Cente in Baku, made by Zaha Hadid. Photo: Natalia Maiboroda

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Heydar Aliyev Cente in Baku, made by Zaha Hadid. Photo: Natalia Maiboroda

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Heydar Aliyev Cente in Baku, made by Zaha Hadid. Photo: Natalia Maiboroda

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The neighborhood around Heydar Aliyev Cente in Baku. Photo: Natalia Maiboroda

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4 thoughts on “Baku: brand signature

  1. Mark Tannenbaum says:

    Your first set of words sets the tone of this post: “I never wanted to go to Baku….” The building design is quite marvel. It is a statement building to say the least. But what caught my eye was the felt undertone of this sentence: ” Surrounded by impressive buildings, you must felt very small and uninfluential.” Then forwarded on towards the internal being of whom you are; which basically is the crux of the story. I here you loud and clear!

    When a civilization is kept in a cage for an extended period of time it will take a new generation to make changes. This building how ever strong in its architectural appeal will not change the caged perception the people of Azerbaijan. It is just a prettier pile of poop statement for the few. The stink might not be present but that building will be a reminder of being in a new gilded cage.

    Then these last words sums up the beginning statement: “But 10 minutes convinced me that Zaha Hadid’ building is the main reason for visiting Baku. It was and it still is.” An internal perspective, externalized. I felt what you saw. Very good for you!

    The pictures are outstanding…what is it about birds that pop up in most of your images?

    • maiboroda says:

      Thank you, Mark, for your comment. I am glad you were able to see this amazing building due to my text. Regarding you question – the birds in my pics are without any particular meaning. But they make buildings or any landscape alive.

  2. Regina says:

    Enjoy reading your articles. But actually everyone takes picturec inside 🙂

    • maiboroda says:

      Thank you, Regina, for your comment. You know, the building was closed to the public. It is actualy not easy to enter inside, as far as I know. But well, to be true, I didn’t have time at all 🙂 I had only 15 minutes or something like that 🙂

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