Inside ME Dubai: The only hotel designed by late architect Zaha Hadid

Purva Grover /Dubai
purva@khaleejtimes.com Filed on July 20, 2021

We make a stopover at ME Dubai, the only hotel designed by renowned architect Zaha Hadid – A roadmap of the late designer's exalted journey

She has many firsts to her credit. An iconic figure in the world of architecture and design, the late Zaha Hadid’s artistic stamp is inimitable. Each time I walk by ME Dubai, the only hotel to be designed by her inside-out, I am in awe of Hadid’s creative vision. So, when the hotel recently opened its doors to present a selection of works by Zaha Hadid Architects and Zaha Hadid Design, I dropped by to learn more about her works. The hotel, housed in The Opus, was designed by Hadid with a free-form void at its centre. It’s now preparing for the addition of four new dining and entertainment venues to the property.

As I walked in, it was the abundance of natural light in the space that caught my attention. Our guide for the day asked us to look around as he informed us: “Hadid never designed the interiors. However, for this project — unfortunately, her last — she designed the rooms, sofas, et al. She was inspired by nature. The wall behind the reception reflects the dune of the desert, the sofas are shaped as petals of the flowers, and more.” Further, we observed the wave of the ocean as another muse. Also featured on the ground floor was the latest collection of Zaha Hadid Design (ZHD) objects. It included a salt and pepper shaker, tea lights, ashtray, etc. Our guide added: “ZHD is about creating designs that are beautiful, yet practical for use in daily lives.”

“Depending on the viewing angle, the appearance of The Opus oscillates between a hollowed-out cube and two towers connected via a sky bridge. The building’s appearance plays off 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 free form interior void. Creating this unique façade was unprecedented in the region and developed new standards of innovation both in engineering and construction,” shared Christos Passas, project director, Zaha Hadid Architects. It’s the ‘void’ aspect of the space that’s most talked about and I learn the lower end of the void is bordered by a freely formed glass roof over the multi-storey atrium. At the upper end of the building, at a height of 71m, the towers are connected via a 38m long sky bridge, clad in curved double-glazed insulating glass units, supported by a double-curved aluminium substructure connected to the structural steel trusses. In contrast, the fluidity of the void is a free-form, glazed façade covering an area of approximately 6,000sqm and consists of 4,300 individual glazing units. “The entire façade was developed using a variety of 3D modelling and fabrication tools for the primary and secondary steel construction. During the day, the cube’s façade reflects the sky, the sun and the surroundings; whilst at night, the void is illuminated by a dynamic light installation of individually controllable LEDs within each glass panel,” added Passas.

As we took the elevator to step into a suite, designed by Hadid, we stopped to admire the models on display of more of her 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 atop. As for the suite, from the bed to the jacuzzi, and the bar to the living room couch, each element bares her exquisite stamp; making the suite a marvel like the building itself.

The walk-in exhibition is open for two months for visitors at ME Dubai, The Opus, Burj Khalifa district.

purva@khaleejtimes.com

author

Purva Grover

Purva Grover is a journalist, poetess, playwright, and stage director. She made her debut as an author, with The Trees Told Me So, a collection of short stories. She is the editor of Young Times, a magazine that empowers the youth in the UAE. She conducts fortnightly writing workshops, author interaction events, open mic sessions, etc. for the writing fraternity in UAE. Her stage productions have been recognised for their boldness, honesty, and unique voice. She is backed with a post-graduate degree in mass communication and literature. Born & brought up in colourful-chaotic India, she writes in English and currently resides in Dubai, UAE. You can stalk her on Instagram @purvagr and say hello to her at purvagrover.com