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Baku, Azerbaijan

Heydar Aliyev Center

The building's fluid, wavelike walls are a true feat of architectural ingenuity. 

In the city of Baku, Azerbaijan, a wave-like building rises from a bed of concrete. Its immobile white walls look as though they’ve been frozen mid-ripple. The abstract architecture is unlike anything else in the capital city.

The Heydar Aliyev Center, which was designed by renowned architect Zaha Hadid and completed in 2012, is rumored to be one of the most expensive buildings in Europe per square foot. Its rolling, flowing design made waves within architectural, engineering, and design circles and garnered it much prestigious international recognition.

Its odd design stands in stark contrast to the Soviet Modernist styles typically found throughout Baku. Inside, the building offers a tranquil environment full of white space and curved lines.

The center contains a museum, gallery hall, and auditorium. Its fluid, folding walls are symbolic of its relationship with the physical and cultural landscape of the city. The entire design is meant to represent Azerbaijan’s dedication to blending its past with its future, as evidenced by the building’s slogan of, “To the future with values!”

However, the center’s unconventional architecture and groundbreaking design weren’t the only things to put it on the world map. According to the Human Rights Watch, the government forcefully displaced locals to make room for the urban development initiative the center was part of. Over 250 homes were cleared while making space for the building.