Civil Courts of Justice in Madrid by Zaha Hadid


Here is a full set of model photos, renderings and drawings of El Juzgado de lo Civil (Civil Courts of Justice) in Madrid, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects.

The competition-winning design was unveiled earlier this month.

The building will form part of a spectacular new Campus de la Justicia at Valdebebas in the Spanish capital, which will also feature buildings by Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, IM Pei and others.

The city of Madrid has issued a press release (in Spanish).

The following text is from the architects:



Due to the high demand for office space within the new masterplan that contains the Civil Courts of Justice, public space within the development has shifted from being a potential destination to becoming residual, fragmented and dispersed.

In desperate need for refocusing, so as to create a better collective experience, the design for the Civil Courts of Justice inserts public space in its core - integrating it by connecting it with the campus’s public circulation. As a result, the Civil Court of Justice design shifts from being a mere component of the overall system to becoming its pivoting point, serving as a reference that provides structure and organizes the entire urban masterplan complex.

The formal language and architectural articulation of the design aims to break the static configuration of the surrounding buildings. The design’s soft and dynamic tectonic turns it into an immediate reference for the masterplan, without the need to exhaust maximum building heights.

By way of horizontal shifts of its mass, a sense of elasticity is introduced into the design allowing the building to be grounded at its elevation to the masterplan campus. This elasticity draws visitors into its interior, and permits the building to ‘float ‘above the ground plain.

The envelope of the Civil Court of Justice is composed of a double-ventilated façade. The exterior layer of the facade is composed of metallic panels which respond to environmental and program conditions. These panels shift from open to closed and from flat to extended depending on the circumstances affecting them. It is also envisaged for the metallic panels on the rooftop incorporates photovoltaic cells.

Inside the building, a spiralling semi-circular atrium is developed around the courtyard where all public space evolves.

The atrium overlooks the courtyard, which serves as instant reference point for visitors to move around the building, and extends to the lower ground floor, providing natural light to enter the court rooms at that level.

Posted on Wednesday November 14th 2007 at 10:49 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Nuno

    That is the symbiose of a toilet seat and a basket of clothes…

  • Ren

    I remember the days when Architecture meant more than finding inspiration in a Parmesan cheese grater, i mean where’s the ‘justice’ in that ?

  • maboica

    You guys need a chill pill. Lets make some constructive crits and comments and not turn this site into a ranting site please.

  • Alex

    another briliant work from zaha… all frustrated please cry hahah
    and loud!

  • TO: Ren & Nuno >>
    Gentlemen, wake up!! We are living the 21st century. Open your innovative mind & remember >> the form or the function? Regards.

  • Nuno

    Remind me to update my Rhino license and to take new photocopies of my sketches. I'm gonna need that to my next work!

  • gigig

    ren put right, where’s the justice in that?
    fractal, or whatever type of geometry is in there, is not necesarilly just.
    “toilet seat”,,,, not much of that, but justice none.
    very occlusive shape, not very “for the people”…

  • what


  • John

    I would like to know more of the context. There’s no doubt that the images of Zaha’s work are lovely, and probably lands them a fair amount of product work and exhibition leads.


    scotch pie?

  • I dont know what to say, shes great !, but dis project dosent say much

  • gac

    i think its interesting, the circular forming, but the space around the building seems quite ignored.

  • What I find here is what I long for it other large structures. No matter the angle, I see something new. From one angle, I see anger. From another, I see joy.

  • If you compare this to a toilet seat, you might as well compare the Colosseum as well. Everything looks like something else. Finding visual comparisons is not a form of criticism – its merely an observation.

  • Nuno

    Dude… it’s like a 2 on 1.

    Zaha’s work is always a repetition of the same crap. And when you seat on a toilet you always do the same crap as well :)

  • rodger

    toilet seat is right on. zaha does a great job of dumbing architecture down to the point that it becomes an industrial design object. .she is not alone…. and, i must say, i find the plan absolutely appalling. relentless, monotonous, and disorienting. i think she needs to forget the computer for a while and get back to the basics of what it takes to make a piece of architecture.

    • Jessica

      Are you an architect? did you study architecture in school? if not, then don't criticize because obviously you don't get it. if you did, you should ask for your money back. this building is genius. the fact that it won the competition, means something. when you win an architecture competition, by all means, criticize. until then, do us aspiring architects a favor, stop bitching and learn something from one of the greatest architects of our time.

  • (((0)))

    McNeel, Autodesk, NextLimit, thanks for your unrenarkable work. You are writing great pages in the Story of Architecture… Tons of young guys are becoming so genius and creative just for your work and they really believe that they are so. They are also writing on the same pages, but unfortunately made of toilette paper. (thanks also to zaha, blocbuster, snoopy and coca-cola).

  • Sam

    the form and every association to the form may take any shape and may be dependent on complex GC scripts as a tool of production but what seems missing here is the intangible force which runs behind any project: spirit of the place, placemaking! intangible forces may simply be the interactions between the building, the place, the city and the life. i really hoped to see certain images where the city is considered and something has been worked upon from what actually exists in that place, madrid’s assets. this could have informed the architecture more than just merely the computational scripting. this building form could be in any city you name but then what makes this project particular to madrid or to spain in those terms?

  • JQL

    It’s a pity that this mini forum isn’t used to debate ideas but to make destructive statements.

    Zaha has her formal language that was very different from everything else when she came out, though not so much nowadays. She can still make strange sky scrapers and she can make strange buildings and sometimes create unique and beautiful things. In my oppinion, this happens less and less as time goes by, but that is not my point.

    Here like in most of what I’ve seen from her work, difference is the key. The main ideas behind the project are that it’s almost cilindrical shape would “break the static configuration of the surrounding buildings” and that “The design’s soft and dynamic tectonic turns it into an immediate reference for the masterplan”.

    I agree that a special building, like a courthouse, should stand out but why should it stand out only because it has a different shape? There are stronger values than the one of formal difference. I don’t even know if it will even exist any true formal difference because it seems that she’s proposing to have all the buildings in the masterplan to look the same – cilindrical.

    Hadid’s architectural and urban ideas tend to be reduced to a difference in shape and that this is not very interesting. I think that with this building, the city will not gain anything more than an object that some think it’s beautiful and some think it’s not. There’s no public space, no connection to the city, and with that masterplan, it seems, the building will be camouflaged by ordinary offices.

  • HAL

    No offence but it looks like a badly cut security grill. Just because you can doesn’t mean you have to. ‘Fractuals’ and other ‘gimmicks’ seem to be a major distraction from creating meaningful and beautiful spaces. And I agree with ‘what’ said..WHY?

  • mauOne

    yeah another spectacular zaha production,
    let’s all be spectacular!
    spectacular-spectacular, bling-bling, blob-blob

  • DMC

    Where is that? Maybe in Spain or in Singapore. Where is the SITE? Is this the Justice? Maybe look likes a bullring but …

  • MAV

    If you know Madrid than you also know how this will impact. It is another brilliant project by Zaha Hadid, a brilliant architect who never seases to surprise and amaze.
    I simply fear that the Spanish and their will to show off to the world their evergrowing power begin transforming Spain into a european Dubai…..

  • AA

    We admire zaha’s work but this is just ugly!
    We are sure that in the process the project will became better and better as soon as Zaha will see it! This is just a DRL competition style and not even a good one.

  • Me gusta que ZAHA me chupe la poronga con los lentes puestos. Joder!!

  • TRED

    Zaha was admiring her reflection in a washing machine drum one morning when she was struck by pure inspiration…………………..

  • Ren

    I hate it but the pigeons will love their new home !

  • antonio

    it is easy to look at the shape and make consideration but it where it is from and where it goes, for now it is just a shape, time after time it wil gets old and “busy” and alive. There will be great and will be remembered in the future as part of architecture history. Who is bullshitting on her work is the same kind of person that did not accept great geniouos in the past, is not the form that is genial but is the fact that building like that will be built and real. I just do not understand who hates shapes and cool design, it is part of us, just accept it and enjoy. And who talks about politics and coca cola or blokbuster just calm down and anjoy the diversity and reality of life, and if you do not want just to watch and talk give us a better building, but not just a drawing! build your studio your name and do it!

  • RArc

    Ok Antonio, what about taking english classes now?

    Plus, if life were so diverse in present days you wouldn’t have cornflakes by morning, wear nike and Armani Exchange to school, have Mcdonalds for meal, Starbucks by afternoon, listen to Amy Whinehouse on bus in your ipod, type all that crap above in an IBM or so, through a microsoft software at night and would not end up dying of cancer at yours 70 just like every other freak architecture student world wide. Ahaha, there is something else. They are trying to spread crap weird-shapes all over the globe, all designed by the same dozen of master-architects, and inducing you to believe that’s cool!

  • Maki

    well at least its not as horrible as the london stadium for 2012! nothing will beat that.

  • Alan Milliken

    ZAHA is now a name, a name that symbolizes a certain group of characteristics that anyone can associate to superficially, and some more deeply. ZAHA is form, form in ZAHA is, just like her fantastic name, bizarre yet attractive. How important is attraction in architecture? How important is attraction in sexuality? How does sexuality relate to consumism? Consumism and architecture?

    I must say i’ve allways found Z. Hadid’s architecture attractive in many ways and on many levels, unfortunately this attraction has recently become nothing more than the primitive result of an impression.

  • yulisri


    this the really happenend in the world bout justice, i thinks

    justice is flexible, today,,
    justice can be, smooth, flexible, but can be forceful,,

    depend in the case of the situation.

    so same with this design,, especially concepted
    to the analysis or justice mean,

    nut just old symbolic with geometry,
    but although with analogical and philosophy theory

    nice design ZAHA,, that’s can be explain,,

  • Juan Pablo

    Con el tiempo, a mi parecer Zaha ha depurado su obra, dejando solo los elementos necesarios para conformar sus propuestas.
    Este edificio es impresionante, la sencillez de la forma es compensada con el tratamiento de la fachada que actualmente esta de moda en la arquitectura. Definitivamente una extraordinaria arquitecto.

  • Nicanor Wong

    First i thought it was a stadium but Civil Courts of Justice! What this design means? Justice is like play football or cow playings? the spaces inside are offices as always with a great open hall. So… this is another bad joke. Zaha´s best projects were few scale ones. Now her works are so espectacular without reason for their existance.

  • nanatea

    It’s really a Zaha’s work.a little reminds me of the nest Stadium in Beijing.
    I can’t say it’s ugly,cuz it’s not.
    Toilet seat of not,it’s still an artwork.
    But I also can’t see why it should be like this,I just konw Zaha’s work will be like this,can this be a reasonable reason to create an architecture?

  • topher

    i think that it’s a mjor breakthrough for zaha.she finally try to make something different.her previous projects were too strong in their characteristics.very linear.e.g bmw plant building in germany and the maxxi contemporary art museum in rome and also her several competition entries.the form is similar.but then she tried something new in phaeno science center.and i think she tried something different too, here in this project.and i appreciate zaha for doing that, though i don’t like circular shapes.she’s still my favourite.

  • Olar

    Maybe you should take a few English classes yourself, RArc? A bit incoherent there…

    Zaha used to do great buildings, architecture!, but now her office has grown to be too big and all they do is churn out objects that look cool, but that have less and less to offer architecturally. I’m formal in the way I work myself, but there has got to be some substance as well! Shrink Zaha’s latest projects by a factor of 1000 or so and they could be cool mixers, toasters or even sneakers. But architecture? Hardly anymore.

    There were several other entries that would have been more deserving winners than Zaha this time, and there have been many other competitions where this holds true, too, but her name has become a trademark, a fashion accessory for people to pimp their cities with. This is blinding the juries to the extent where they don’t look for good architectural intentions or solutions anymore, but surrender to the current hype, the fancy renderings and the hope that having their own Zaha will make them stand out in the crowd. It is a sad demise for Zaha Hadid, but an even sadder one for contemporary architecture.

  • sta

    there’s a masterplan by idontknowwho, which consists of circular buildings, so at least that part of shape and contextuality is not her (offices) decission…

  • younis

    very great

  • henry

    Zaha is getting more and more a setialist in mapping 3D elements and texturs about any organig object … we will call here QUEEN OF COPY PASTE.

  • Ian-paul

    I serve humble pie on wednesdays and fridays, so all the fools that think this is a kraper, come eat some pie because once this building open to the public people will sing her praise, wake up. Maybe the negetive people need to face the sun and feel the energy. Maybe it is fustration because the most the (O so neg) will amount to is a few lines of trash text.
    Zaha Hadid you are a CHAMPION

  • Such a beautiful thing. Reading all these comments. Makes one realize how few Zaha’s the world has. One knowing how to create in a way shifting our perspective of beauty over time. So solid. She lives in the as-not-yet world. It must be so amazing there. Strong enough to care for us and wait. Wait for decades for us to join her in that future space. For me, that is Zaha’s signature. Her gift.
    – Arthur

  • Zaha Hadid is not only a archict but a great product designer as wel. i am simply in love with her designs the way u she play with building that grabs the attention of every eye….Civil Courts of Justice is an other example of her creative skills and i like this post cuz it’s carrying al most complete plan otherwise usually in blogs we can just few 1,2 images with a lil detail.