While most architecture is borne out of practical necessity there are moments when the craft pushes the boundaries of imagination. For Blakstad draughtsman Francesco Zanatta, the Heydar Aliyev Centre is one such building. Designed by the iconic Zaha Hadid, this building stands as a true masterpiece that smoothly melds innovation, fluidity, and functionality. “It isn’t just a building,” says Zanatta. “It’s a testament to the potential of human creativity.”

Zaha Hadid was a visionary who forever reshaped the landscape of design with her confident and exceptional projects. Renowned for a daring and distinctive style, and fearless implementation of technological innovation, Hadid shattered architectural conventions and changed the concept of what buildings could be. Her legacy is one of ground-breaking structures that evoke emotional responses, challenge preconceptions, and blur the lines between art and architecture. Hadid has not only left an indelible mark on skylines around the world but also inspired a generation of architects to embrace the beauty of the unconventional.

Situated in the heart of Baku, Azerbaijan, the Heydar Aliyev Centre is an expression of architectural poetry. Hadid’s signature style, marked by curvaceous lines and a disregard for traditional geometrical norms, is evident through the lack of corners and straight lines; the design embraces a fluid, undulating form that appears to defy gravity. The Centre encourages architects and designers in many fields to break free from the constraints of traditional thought, reminding them that innovation often stems from the courage to venture into uncharted territories.

The interiors are a celebration of openness marked by expansive, column-free halls that effortlessly flow into one another, encouraging a rethinking of the relationship between built and vacant space and challenging the notion of enclosure. The building’s layout and design allow for flexibility in function, an adaptability that serves as a valuable lesson for all architects: create designs that cater to the evolving needs and experiences of the people who use the space.

The building’s complex and curvilinear structure required innovative construction techniques, and typical of the late, great architect, Hadid pushed the limits of what was thought possible, perfectly balancing artistry with feasibility. Hadid’s design philosophy often draws inspiration from the natural world, and the Centre’s flowing contours and organic form are reminiscent of the hills, valleys, and gentle undulations of the Azerbaijani landscape. The structure’s harmonious connection with its surroundings is in total synchronisation with nature. While the designs at Blakstad are considerably more modest than Hadid’s, there is a shared philosophy that positions architecture in deference to nature and centres the needs, desires and lifestyles of the inhabitants of the final product.

Architecture is a living, evolving entity that should spark conversation, challenge perceptions and leave an indelible mark on the world. By pushing past conventional norms and embracing audacious creativity, Hadid demonstrated that architecture can transcend its utilitarian purpose to become an expressive art form that engages, inspires, and evokes emotions. Zaha Hadid’s work remains a beacon of encouragement to think beyond the ordinary, experiment with new concepts, and to continually strive for innovation.