Zaha Hadid: Queen of Atriums

Zaha Hadid Architects
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There are few gaps left in the burgeoning portfolio of British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, which continues to grow at an extraordinary pace both on the drawing board and at construction sites around the globe.

However, many of the buildings themselves, from concepts to finished structures, are filled with empty space — in a very literal sense.

Zaha Hadid Architects clearly has a penchant for atriums, and her latest may be the most dizzying yet. The recently completed Dominion Office Building in Moscow, Russia, possesses a huge, multistory void at its heart, visually connecting every floor and providing a valuable common space for employees filled with light.

Hadid’s characteristically dazzling finishes lend the space an ethereal glow, while staircases stretch fluidly across the opening with a hypnotizing, Escher-like aesthetic. Dominion’s atrium is far from the first of its kind to be conceived by this globally renowned practice: the building in Moscow may well have been inspired by Hadid’s gargantuan Galaxy SOHO in Beijing, China, a shopping mall with a similarly streamlined architectural language.

These internal plazas are intended to encourage interaction and connectivity between people. In Galaxy SOHO, social cohesion is the goal, while in the Dominion, this kind of shared space is intended to fuel knowledge-sharing and collaboration between IT and creative industry startups. The same approach was adopted for the Jockey Club Innovation Tower in Hong Kong, whose atrium allowed office layouts to be much deeper without resulting in dark, shadowy internal spaces.

This method of carving out the core of a building for increased interactivity and accessibility is not confined to commercial and retail-oriented buildings: the striking MAXXI: Museum of XXI Century Arts also has a heart of open air and sinuous stairs, its obsidian circulation creating a striking contrast with the gleaming white walls and smooth concrete.

Having mastered this classic architectural move, Hadid is extending the formula to new heights with an upcoming project in Beijing. Architects’ Journal reports that the Leeza SOHO will possess the world’s largest atrium, a 660-foot-high (200-meter) void that effectively dissects a skyscraper in two. The office building is reminiscent of a huge shell or seedpod, allowing light and air to permeate deep into the heart of the complex while lending the building a distinctive, curvilinear appearance.

While we await more details on the ascent of that atrium, check out images and information on Zaha Hadid Architects’ latest projects over on the firm’s in-depth profile page.

Dominion Office Building, Moscow, Russia

Dominion Office Building, Moscow, Russia


Galaxy Soho, Beijing, China


Jockey Club Innovation Tower, Hong Kong


MAXXI : Museum of XXI Century Arts, Rome, Italy


Beijing office with the “world's largest atrium,” courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects.

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