We’d love to tell you that the Middle East’s most famous contemporary architect is doing great green things for the region, but we can’t. Instead, Zaha Hadid’s latest project in Dubai, the Opus Hotel and Office Tower designed in collaboration with Meliá Hotels International, may well be among her most extravagant.
A lot of large architecture firms are working in the Middle East, and most have cottoned on to the notion that it’s essential to build within energetic and resource constraints. Most, that is, but Hadid.
We have lamented the Iraqi architect’s failure to be an example for the region several times in the past. Her swooping volumes are consistently arresting, but they do little to nothing to perpetuate a more responsible approach to design.
She has made some overtures by greening the 2020 Olympic stadium for Tokyo, but in general, Hadid seems dangerously unconcerned with adding responsible structures to the planet. But what about the LEED Silver Galaxy SOHO Project, you might ask, to which I would respond that most environmentalists no longer believe that LEED is sufficiently rigorous.
We now know that if everyone on the planet were to attempt to live like Americans do, we would need five planets to provide the requisite natural resources. Instead of trying to achieve this lofty goal, now is a time for scaling back our desires and living more within our means, within the planet’s means.
This is not the time for extravagant structures like the Opus Office Tower slated for a 2016 opening in Dubai.
The mixed-use building will consist of two separate volumes with a vacuous core linked by covered walkways on all four sides. While it appears to have been designed to maximize natural lighting, no mention is made of incorporating renewable energy, energy efficient appliances or lighting, or doing anything groundbreaking to offset this 21-storey structure’s environmental footprint.
With penthouse suites and private rooftop terraces, a luxury hotel and plenty of chances to burn money in retail outlets at the tower’s base, the latest addition to the Burj Khalifa complex merely extends the mirage of finite plenty in the emirate.
In addition to designing the tower itself for the developer Omniyat, Hadid has been commissioned to select each piece of furniture for the interior. We know that she won’t be hitting up local designers who work with recycled or repurposed materials.
Nope. The first Meliá Hotels International project in Dubai promises to be one of the glitziest towers yet, and that’s saying a lot.
:: Zaha Hadid