Five Works by Zaha Hadid
by Philip Jodidio
Zaha Hadid was asked to design the BMW Central Building in Leipzig, Germany (2005), described as the "nerve center of the whole factory complex," subsequent to an April 2002 competition she won, when the layout of adjacent manufacturing buildings had already been decided. Suppliers chosen for the rest of the factory provided many prefabricated elements, in harmony with the "industrial approach to office spaces" decided by BMW.
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Simply put, in the words of the architect: "It was the client's objective to translate industrial architecture into an aesthetic concept that complies equally with representational and functional requirements. In the transition zones between manufacturing halls and public space the Central Building acts as a 'mediator,' impressing a positive permanent impact upon the eye of the beholder in a restrained semiotic way."
Used as the entrance to the entire plant, the Central Building connects the three main manufacturing departments. The nerve-center concept is rendered all the more clear in that "the central area as a 'market place' is intended to enhance communication by providing staff with an area in which to avail themselves of personal and administrative services." A system of cascading floors allows views of different parts of the manufacturing process, ranging from assembly to the auditing area, described as "a central focus of everybody's attention."
The building itself is made with "self-compacting concrete and a roof structure assembled with a series of H-steel beams." The architect intends to use the architecture to create an "overall transparency of the internal organization," but also to mix functions "to avoid the traditional segregation of status groups." Particular attention was also paid to the inevitable parking area in front of the building by "turning it into a dynamic spectacle in its own right."
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This article is excerpted from Zaha Hadid: Complete Works, 1979-2009 by Philip Jodidio, copyright © 2009, with permission of the publisher, Taschen.