As part of the former Soviet Union, the urbanism and architecture of Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan on the Western coast of the Caspian Sea, was heavily influenced by the planning of that era. Since its independence in 1991, Azerbaijan has invested heavily in modernizing and developing Baku’s infrastructure and architecture, departing from its legacy of normative Soviet Modernism.
The Heydar Aliyev Center is a 619,000 sq ft cultural center with walls that rise from the surface of the surrounding plaza. It was designed by Zaha Hadid Architects as the main venue for exhibitions, concerts and other cultural activities, including a library, a museum and a 1000-seat auditorium. It is named after Heydar Aliyev (1923–2003), the first secretary of Soviet Azerbaijan (1969–1982), and president of Azerbaijan Republic from (1993–2003), and was completed in 2013.
Glass-fiber reinforced concrete panels create the undulating wall surfaces, while windows and entrances are slotted into openings between different sections. “The center expresses the sensibilities of Azeri culture and the optimism of a nation that looks to the future,” said project architect Saffet Kaya Bekiroglu.