Dubai – We stop at ME Dubai, the only hotel designed by renowned architect Zaha Hadid – A roadmap of the late designer’s elated journey
She has many firsts to her credit. An iconic figure in the world of architecture and design, Zaha Hadid’s late artistic stamp is inimitable. Every time I walk by ME Dubai, the only hotel to be designed from the inside out, I am in awe of Zaha Hadid’s creative vision. So when the hotel recently opened to showcase a selection of works by Zaha Hadid Architects and Zaha Hadid Design, I popped in to find out more about her works. The hotel, located in Opus, was designed by Zaha Hadid with a free-form void at its center. It is now preparing for the addition of four new restaurants and entertainment venues to the property.
Upon entering, it was the abundance of natural light in the space that caught my eye. Our guide for the day asked us to look around informing us: “Hadid never designed the interiors. However, for this project – unfortunately, her last – she designed the bedrooms, sofas, etc. She was inspired by nature. The wall behind the reception mirrors the desert dune, the sofas are shaped like flower petals, etc. Further on, we watched the ocean wave as another muse. Also on the ground floor was the latest collection of Zaha Hadid Design (ZHD) objects. It included a salt and pepper shaker, tea lights, an ashtray, etc. Our guide added, “ZHD is all about creating beautiful, yet practical designs to use in everyday life.”
“Depending on the angle of view, the appearance of The Opus oscillates between a hollowed-out cube and two towers connected by an air bridge. The appearance of the building highlights the strong contrast given to its two distinct facades of the all-glass envelope: a clear glass curtain wall with a distinct fritting pattern for the exterior faces and blue-tinted glass for the freeform interior void. The creation of this unique facade was unprecedented in the region and developed new standards of innovation in both engineering and construction,” said Christos Passas, Project Director, Zaha Hadid Architects. It is the most talked about “empty” aspect of the space and I learn that the lower end of the void is bordered by a loosely formed glass roof above the multi-story atrium. At the upper end of the building, at a height of 71 m, the towers are connected by a 38 m long overhead bridge, clad in curved double-glazed insulating glass units, supported by an aluminum substructure at double curvature connected to the steel trusses of the structure. In contrast, the fluidity of the void is a free-form glazed facade covering an area of approximately 6,000 m² and consists of 4,300 individual glazing units. “The entire façade was developed using a variety of 3D modeling and fabrication tools for primary and secondary steel construction. During the day, the facade of the cube reflects the sky, the sun and the surroundings; while at night the void is illuminated by a dynamic light installation of individually controllable LEDs in each glass panel,” Passas added.
As we rode the elevator into a suite, designed by Hadid, we stopped to admire models on display of several of his works, including but not limited to Bee’ah Headquarters ( Sharjah, UAE). Of course, we take a moment to look down and admire the petal-shaped couches from above. As for the suite, from the bed to the jacuzzi, from the bar to the sofa in the living room, each element bears its exquisite cachet; making the suite a marvel like the building itself.
The walk-in exhibition is open for two months to visitors to ME Dubai, The Opus, Burj Khalifa district.