Architecture: Sheikh Zayed Brigde by Zaha Hadid
Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi
Named after the country’s principal architect and former president Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the 842 meter long bridge by Zaha Hadid is said to be the most intricate bridge ever constructed. Its curved design arches evoke undulating sand dunes of the desert. The bridge features – besides its striking architecture – a dynamic lighting design by Rogier van der Heide that is based on subtle colours that flow across the bridge’s spine, symbolising the connecting nature of the bridge and the energy that the capital city Abu Dhabi radiates. The bridge is the third traffic route connecting the mainland to the island of Abu Dhabi and the new main gateway over the Maqta channel.
By reputation, Zaha Hadid is an architect who pushes the boundaries of structural design. Such is the complexity of recreating her vision in real life that it has taken eight years for her to build a bridge. It is, of course, no ordinary bridge. This is a radical design with steel waves that seem to engulf the roadway. Its completion this month will only enhance her reputation for futuristic constructions that not only defy gravity but raise expectations about whether they can even get off the ground. The new Sheikh Zayed Bridge, a crucial link in the new highway that will push into the heart of the city, is one of her most ambitious projects in a career spanning more than 30 years. Afterwards she will turn her attention to Saadiyat Island, where she is constructing the Performing Arts Centre, an extraordinary, organic design. These are projects that in a sense mark her homecoming to the Middle East from Britain, where she lives: she was born in Baghdad almost 60 years ago, the daughter of a prominent Iraqi industrialist and politician.
About the designer: 53-year-old Zaha Hadid is an architect with an individuality that attracts attention. Startlingly designed rooms and surprising angles characterise her designs. Examples of her work have been exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennial, and she has received numerous awards and won competitions around the world. In May 2004 she became the first woman to win the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize. Zaha Hadid’s projects cover a wide field. At present she is working on a ferry terminal for the Italian city of Salerno, a plaza in Barcelona, the Guangzhou Opera House in China and an extension to the Price Tower arts centre in Bartlesville, USA. She is based in London.