The Heydar Aliyev Center is a 57,500 m2 (619,000 sq ft) building complex in Baku, Azerbaijan designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadidand noted for its distinctive architecture and flowing, curved style that eschews sharp angles. The center is named after Heydar Aliyev, the first secretary of Soviet Azerbaijan from 1969 to 1982, and president of Azerbaijan Republic from October 1993 to October 2003.
The Center houses a conference hall (auditorium), a gallery hall and a museum. The project is intended to play an integral role in the intellectual life of the city. Located close to the city center, the site plays a pivotal role in the redevelopment of Baku.
The Heydar Aliyev Center represents a fluid form which emerges by the folding of the landscape’s natural topography and by the wrapping of individual functions of the Center. All functions of the Center, together with entrances, are represented by folds in a single continuous surface. This fluid form gives an opportunity to connect the various cultural spaces whilst at the same time, providing each element of the Center with its own identity and privacy. As it folds inside, the skin erodes away to become an element of the interior landscape of the Center.
An internationally recognized architectural work, the building of the Heydar Aliyev Center has become a signature landmark of modern Baku due to its innovative and cutting-edge design. Extending on eight floor levels, the center accommodates a 1000-seat auditorium, temporary exhibition spaces, a conference center, workshops, and a museum. The building was nominated for awards in 2013 at both the World Architecture Festival and the biennial Inside Festival.
In 2007, Zaha Hadid was appointed as the design architect of the Center after a competition. In 2014, the Center won the Design Museum’s Design of the Year Award 2014 despite concerns about the site’s human rights record. This makes Zaha Hadid the first woman to win the top prize in that competition.
On June 29, 2012, the Heydar Aliyev Center held the official opening of Crans Montana Forum, attended by President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili, President of Macedonia Gjorge Ivanov, President of Montenegro Filip Vujanovic, as well as foreign public figures, MPs, intellectuals, and business circles.
On July 3, 2012, the Center held the ceremony of the official seeing-off of the Azerbaijani delegation to take part in the XXX Summer Olympic Games in London. The ceremony was attended by the President Republic of Azerbaijan, President of the National Olympic Committee Ilham Aliyev and his spouse Mehriban Aliyeva. Photo banners reflecting the Olympic movement in Azerbaijan were installed in the lobby of the Heydar Aliyev Center. President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev made a speech at the ceremony.