ZHA’s Orthogonal Opus

Home to the new ME Dubai hotel, the Opus is located in the Burj Khalifa district adjacent to Downtown Dubai and Business Bay on the Dubai Water Canal. Exploring the balance between solid and void, opaque and transparent, interior and exterior, the design was presented by Zaha Hadid in 2007 and is the only hotel in which she created both its architecture and interiors.

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Spanning 84,300m2 (907,400ft2), the Opus was designed as two separate towers that coalesce into a singular whole — taking the form of a cube. The cube has been ‘eroded’ in its centre, creating a free-form void that is an important volume of the design in its own right. The two halves of the building on either side of the void are linked by a four-storey atrium at ground level and also connected by an asymmetric 38m-wide, three-storey bridge 71m above the ground.

“The precise orthogonal geometries of the Opus’ elemental glass cube contrast dramatically with the fluidity of the eight-storey void at its centre,” explained Christos Passas, Project Director at Zaha Hadid Architects.

The cube’s double-glazed insulating facades incorporate a UV coating and a mirrored frit pattern to reduce solar gain. Applied around the entire building, this dotted frit patterning emphasises the clarity of the building’s orthogonal form, while at the same time, dissolving its volume through the continuous play of light varying between ever-changing reflections and transparency.

FACT FILE:

Architect:

Zaha Hadid Architects

ZHA design director:

Christos Passas

Competition team:

Christos Passas (lead designer), Paul Peyrer-Heimstaett, Alvin Huang, Daniel Baerlecken, Gemma Douglas and Saleem Al-Jalil

Design team (shell and core):

Vincent Nowak (project architect), Dimitris Akritopoulos, Javier Ernesto-Lebie, Paul Peyrer-Heimstaett, Sylvia Georgiadou, Phivos Skroumbelos, Marilena Sophocleous, Chiara Ferrari, Thomas Frings, Jesus Garate and Wenyuan Peng

Base built supervision team:

Fabian Hecker (team leader), Barbara Bochnak (team leader), Tomasz Starczewski, Kwanphil Cho, Bruno Pereira and Dimitris Kolonis

Hotel and apartment interior design team one:

Reza Esmaeeli, Bozana Komljenovic (project leads), Laura Micalizzi, Emily Rohrer (senior interior designers), Veronika Ilinskaya, Eider Fernandez Eibar, Stella Nikolakaki, Bruno Pereira, Raul Forsoni, Thomas Frings, Chrysi Fradellou, Spyridon Kaprinis, Alexandra Fischer, Hendrik Rupp, Vivian Pashiali, Sofia Papageorgiou, Carlos Luna, Christos Sazos, Kwanphil Cho, Andri Shalou, Ben Kikkawa, Melhem Sfeir, Faten el Meri and Eleni Mente (landscape designer)

Hotel and apartment interior design team two:

Alessio Constantino (project lead), Sonia Renehan (senior interior designer), Afsoon Es Haghi, Zsuzsanna Barat, Ekaterina Smirnova, Chafic Zerrouki, Nessma Al Ghoussein and Christina Christodoulidou

Bespoke furniture team:

Maha Kutay (project director), Margarita Valova, Reza Esmaeeli, Raul Forsoni, Bruno Pereira, Carine Posner and Filipa Gomes

The void’s 6000m2 facade is created from 4300 individual units of flat, single-curved or double-curved glass. The high-efficiency glazing units comprise 8mm low-E glass (coated on the inside), a 16mm cavity between the panes and two layers of 6mm clear glass with a 1.52mm PVB resin laminate. This curved facade was designed using digital 3D modelling that also identified specific zones which required tempered glass.

During the day, the cube’s facade reflects the sky, the sun and the surrounding city; whilst at night, the void is illuminated by a dynamic light installation of individually controllable LEDs within each glass panel.

Furniture by Zaha Hadid Design is installed throughout the hotel, including the ‘Petalinas’ sofas and ‘Ottomans’ pods in the lobby that are fabricated from materials ensuring a long lifecycle and its components can be recycled. The ‘Opus’ beds in each bedroom while the ‘Work & Play’ combination sofa with desk are installed in the suites. The hotel’s bedrooms also incorporate the ‘Vitae’ bathroom collection, designed by Hadid in 2015 for Noken Porcelanosa, continuing her fluid architectural language throughout the hotel’s interiors.

The ME Dubai hotel incorporates 74 rooms and 19 suites, while the Opus building also houses office floors, serviced residences and restaurants, cafes and bars including ROKA, the contemporary Japanese robatayaki restaurant and the MAINE Land Brasserie.

Sensors throughout the Opus automatically adjust the ventilation and lighting according to occupancy to conserve energy while ME Dubai follows Meliá Hotel’s international initiatives for sustainable practices. Hotel guests will receive stainless-steel water bottles to use during their stay with drinking water dispensers installed throughout the hotel. With no plastic bottles in guest rooms and a programme to become entirely plastic-free in all areas, the hotel is also reducing food waste by not serving buffets and has composters to recycle discarded organics.

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