Heydar Aliyev Center

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Heydar Aliyev Center
Heydər Əliyev Mərkəzi
Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center.jpg
The Heydar Aliyev Center in 2012
General information
Status Complete
Location Baku, Azerbaijan
Coordinates 40°23′43″N 49°52′01″E / 40.39528°N 49.86694°E / 40.39528; 49.86694Coordinates: 40°23′43″N 49°52′01″E / 40.39528°N 49.86694°E / 40.39528; 49.86694
Construction started 2007
Completed 10 May 2012
Roof 74 m (243 ft)
Design and construction
Architect Zaha Hadid Architects
Main contractor DIA Holding

The Heydar Aliyev Center is a 57,500 m2 (619,000 sq ft) building complex in Baku, Azerbaijan designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid and noted for its distinctive architecture and flowing, curved style that eschews sharp angles.[1] 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 on a 20-qapik stamp for the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, held in Baku

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.[2]

Heydar Aliyev Center had an official soft-opening ceremony on 10 May 2012 held by current president of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.[3]

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.[4] The building was nominated for awards in 2013 at both the World Architecture Festival and the biennial Inside Festival.[5]

In 2014, Centre won the Design Museum’s Design of the Year Award 2014 despite concerns about the site's human rights record.[6][7] This makes Zaha Hadid the first woman to win the top prize in that competition.[8]

In popular culture[edit]

The building was featured in Extreme Engineering, a documentary television series that airs on the Discovery Channel and the Science Channel. The episode called "Azerbaijan's Amazing Transformation" was aired on April 22, 2011 as part of Season 9. The Building was also featured on the "postcard" of Samra Rahimli for the postcard of Azerbaijan at the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 and in a Google Doodle in 2017.[9]

Ongoing activities[edit]


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 F.Y.R.O.Macedonia Gjorge Ivanov, President of Montenegro Filip Vujanovic, as well as foreign public figures, MPs, intellectuals, and business circles.[10]

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.


On 20 July 2012, a fire started on the roof of the building at about 11:30am.[11][12] It was quickly put out by firemen,[13] and it was initially reported that the fire only damaged the roof of the building, leaving the interior only slightly damaged, mainly because of the water used by firemen to extinguish the fire.[14] The fire was found to have resulted from negligence in the use of welding equipment in the roof; three Turkish contractors were subsequently charged under Azerbaijan's criminal code.[15] The resulting damage was found to have had "grave consequences and material damage on a large scale".[16] Subsequent to sixteen months of repairs, it was formally (re)opened on November 5, 2013.[17]

On Nov. 2 and 3, 2013, Moscow music theater “Helikon-Opera” under the direction of People's Artist of Russia Dmitry Bertmann presented performances at the Heydar Aliyev Center. On Nov. 2, the “Helikon-Opera” presented a gala concert “The Enduring Love”, a program that included lyric songs by Marilyn Monroe, Tina Turner, Elton John, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, “The Beatles”, with “All You Need is Love”, “I believe in Love”,”Je Suis Malade”, “Only You”, “Lady in Red”, “Love me Tender” performed. On Nov.3, the artists of the theater performed the opera “Siberia” by the Italian composer Umberto Giordano staged by Dmitry Bertmann. The opera narrates the story of love between two young people, which starts at brilliant imperial St. Petersburg and ends tragically in hard labor in Siberia.[18]


“Life, Death, and Beauty”[edit]

On June 21, 2013, the Center held the opening of the exhibition of works by American artist Andy Warhol titled “Life, Death, and Beauty” supervised by Gianni Mercurio, dated for the 85th anniversary of the artist. The exhibition, taking place first ever in Azerbaijan, displayed over one hundred works by the artist, including featurettes by Warhol. There were shown photos of the author, portraits of the world film, music, and fashion stars, as well as other world-renowned works, with "Flowers" "Camouflage", “The Last Supper”, “Male Hands Praying”, “Electric Chair”, etc. On August 6, the artist's birthday, Baku residents and visitors could freely visit the exhibition, which ran till September 9.[19]

“At the turn of the century”[edit]

On October 1, 2013, the Heydar Aliyev Center held a personal exhibition of the People's Artist of Azerbaijan, vice- president of the Russian Academy of Arts Tahir Salakhov titled “At the turn of the century”. The exhibition was dated for the 85th anniversary of the artist. His great contribution to the development of the Azerbaijani fine art was highlighted at the exhibition opening. The artistic heritage of Tahir Salakhov is an integral part of the art of not only Azerbaijan, but also the entire former Soviet Union. He is recognized as one of the founders of the “severe style” in painting. The exhibition featured over 100 works by the artist, created at different times, and his works on the carpets. There are portraits of Heydar Aliyev, the composer Gara Garayev and Dmitri Shostakovich, the musician Mstislav Rostropovich, the works “Aidan”, “Morning. Absheron”,”Koroglu”, Absheron triptych – “Atyashgyah”, “The Caspian today”, “Maiden Tower”, and other well-known works of the people’s artist. The exhibition ran till November 8.[20]

In 2017 the center has also opened its doors to the Contemporary Turkish Art Exhibition,a collection of art pieces by various Turkish artists.[21]


  1. ^ Joseph, Giovannini. "Heydar Aliyev Center" September 17, 2013.
  2. ^ Zaha Hadid Architects. Heydar Aliyev Centre
  3. ^ President of Azerbaijan Took Part in the Opening of the Heydar Aliyev Center (Russian)
  4. ^ "Heydar Aliyev Center - Baku, Azerbaijan | Zaha Hadid Architects" Inexhibit, October 14, 2016.
  5. ^ "Heydar Aliyev Centre by Zaha Hadid Architects." Dezeen Magazine, July 11, 2013.
  6. ^ Montgomery, Angus. "Zaha Hadid building is ‘best design of 2014’". www.designweek.co.uk. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  7. ^ Wainwright, Oliver. "Wave of protest as Zaha Hadid's Baku prizewinner causes controversy". www.theguarian.com. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  8. ^ "Dame Zaha Hadid awarded the Riba Gold Medal for architecture - BBC News". Bbc.com. Retrieved 2015-09-24. 
  9. ^ https://www.google.com/doodles/celebrating-zaha-hadid
  10. ^ The official opening ceremony of the Crans Montana Forum has been held in Baku
  11. ^ Turkish Weekly, Fire Hits Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku
  12. ^ Fire in Heydar Aliyev Center - video
  13. ^ Fire at Heydar Aliyev Center extinguished
  14. ^ Emergency Ministry issues statement on fire at Heydar Aliyev Center
  15. ^ "3 Turks officially impeached in fire raising in Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku". ABC.AZ. Fineko Informational & Analytic Agency. July 24, 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2015. [permanent dead link]
  16. ^ "A criminal investigation into a fire in the Heydar Aliyev Center is passed to court". Contact Online news. Turan News Agency. March 16, 2013. Retrieved 29 November 2015. 
  17. ^ "Opening of the Heydar Aliyev Centre in Baku, Azerbaijan". Baku Magazine. Condé Nast International. 21 November 2013. Retrieved 29 November 2015. 
  18. ^ The Enduring Love Gala Concert and Siberia Opera to perform for the first time in Baku
  19. ^ An exhibition of works by Andy Warhol will held at the Heydar Aliyev Center
  20. ^ Tahir Salakhov’s solo exhibition will be launched at the Heydar Aliyev Center
  21. ^ https://www.azernews.az/culture/118633.html

External links[edit]