Zaha Hadid’s first and only building in Dubai shortlisted for architecture prize

The Opus in Business Bay has been selected for the World Architecture Festival Awards

The Opus is Zaha Hadid's first and only building in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National
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Designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, The Opus – the only building in Dubai created by Hadid, who died in 2016 – has been shortlisted for this year's World Architecture Festival Awards. With more than 148 judges from more than 68 countries involved in the selection process, the awards programme is one of the biggest in the world. It is part of the World Architecture Festival, an annual three-day event that includes a themed conference, exhibitions and the awards ceremony.

This year, the festival will be held in Amsterdam and will start on Wednesday, December 4. The 2019 awards shortlist includes 534 works in more than 30 categories, with The Opus listed in the "Completed Buildings – Mixed Use" division. It will compete for the prize alongside Bangkok's King Power MahaNakhon skyscraper by German architecture group Buro Ole Scheeren and London's Hawley Wharf by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, among others.

Built in Business Bay, The Opus' architectural design was developed in 2013 by Hadid, Patrik Schumacher, company director at Zaha Hadid Architects, and associate director Christos Passas. The building comprises two 20-storey towers linked by a glass and steel bridge to form a cube, while one of the facade's defining features is its carved centre. This irregularly shaped void recalls much of Hadid's other works, which are defined by fluid curves and forms. At 93 metres tall, the structure appears to float above the ground thanks to a concealed base.

The late architect Zaha Hadid is an inspiration to many. Brigitte Lacombe
The late architect Zaha Hadid is an inspiration to many. Brigitte Lacombe

Run by developer Omniyat, The Opus was built to house offices, commercial spaces, a hotel and luxury apartments. The office spaces opened this year, with the hotel and residences to open in the middle of next year. Spanish hotel chain Melia Hotels International will operate the hotel, which will have furnishings specifically selected by Hadid. 

In 2004, the architect became the first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize. She established Zaha Hadid Architects in 1980. Since then, the company has worked on projects such as the London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympics Games and Maxxi – National Museum of the 21st Century Arts in Rome.

Closer to home, Abu Dhabi's 842-metre-long Sheikh Zayed Bridge is also a design by Hadid, who took inspiration from sand dunes to create the structure's curved arches.