Dubai Opera House by Zaha Hadid



Zaha Hadid Architects have developed designs for a new opera house and cultural centre for Dubai.


The dune-shaped building is proposed for an island off Dubai Creek.


More info from Zaha Hadid Architects follows:





PROGRAM: Design for a Cultural Centre and Opera House in Dubai
ARCHITECT: Design Zaha Hadid with Patrik Schumacher

Project Director: Graham Modlen
Project Leader: Dillon Lin
Design Team: Christine Chow, Lourdes Sanchez, Yiching Liu, Swati Sharma,
Tyen Masten, Simone Fuchs, Johannes Schafelner

Competition Team: Christine Chow, Lourdes Sanchez, Yiching Liu, Larissa Henke, Claudia Wulf, Hooman Talebi, Daniel Dendra, Simon Yu, Komal Talreja

Engineering Consultant: Arup [London, UK]
Acoustics Consultant: Richard Cowell, Ian Knowles
Structural Engineering: Keith Jones
Building Services Engin.: Tim Thornton
Façade Engineering: Steve Bosi



The design calls for an exciting new cultural centre in the new Seven Pearls district of Dubai. This landmark development will accommodate an opera house, playhouse, arts gallery, performing arts school and themed hotel on an island in Dubai Creek just off the mainland part of the district. All of these facilities will be state of the art to host world class performances and exhibitions. The opera house will have a seating capacity of 2,500 while the playhouse will have a seating capacity of 800.


The arts gallery with 5000m2 of exhibition space is indeed a full size exhibition facility comparable to the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The hotel will accommodate guests in a 6 star setting. Sited on an island in Dubai Creek, the development will be connected to Greater Dubai by a road connection to the mainland.


Design Concept and Programme Organisation

The proposal houses all of the facilities within a single striking structure. The gentle winding form evokes images of mountains or sand dunes. Rising out of the ground, this form is both a part of the landscape yet very much a distinct element in the skyline. The surrounding landscape forms build up to the main building. These constitute open park spaces as well as ancillary functions such as the parking facilities and the monorail station, which are either tucked under or integrated into the andscape forms.


The two peaks correspond to the opera house and the playhouse. The tall requirements of the fly towers are nested under these peaks. From these peaks, the form gradually swoops down to touch the earth. The form is scalloped away where the three major entrances are to be found. The main entrances for audiences visiting either of the two performing arts auditoria are on the north side of the building. At the ground level will be the VIP entrance with car drop off right at the entrance and a separate foyer from the main foyer. This foyer serves both the opera house and the playhouse. The main foyer is a gentle multi-tiered landscape at one floor above the ground floor. It also serves the opera house and the playhouse as well as having an interior connection to the arts gallery.

Floating above this foyer are further foyer spaces serving the balcony levels. The foyer levels from the main foyer level up are visually connected to each other through a series of voids. This allows for direct views between the main foyer at the first floor all the way up to the highest balcony foyer. Surprising views are abundant in this space.

The auditoria are contained in flowing shapes that seem to emerge from the underside of the main shell. This inner shell however, does not quite touch the main shell. Instead, the two surfaces disappear into a light gap between them. Supporting functions found off the foyer are defined by walls that merge into the underside of the main shell.

Posted on Friday June 6th 2008 at 12:06 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Abd Al Jabar

    Nothing Arabic about it. Take it to the US and will blend in. Like other building in the UAE, they are only “Wall paper Architecture”, Borrrrrrring.

  • @ Archigod

    theyre working with Maya, Rhino, AutoCAD, and Outlook ;)
    they r just searchin for ppl who can create buildings in 3D.


  • Archigod

    @ Volker

    Oh no, i am very very good in 3d studio max, but i can try to learn Rhino. Do you know somebody there, or are you working for them. How is their payment? do think i can survive in London? Thanks a lot.

  • 9ham

    architecture look like China’s paniting…no limit and through space …i love her

  • Dan

    @知识分子: If she’s Madonna, Calatrava it’s Britney.

  • Sheila

    Dubai’s obsessive, grotesque, overdoneness in it’s landscape and architecture ultimately becomes soulless and boring.

  • Cool design “ripples in the sand”

    Dubai gives a great boost forward for architects and structural engineers in playing with architectural shapes and constructions.

  • Peter Higgins

    My goodness – you people have a funny idea about things, and most certainly seem to have no idea about the working of Dubai. This will be designed in London, and bought and paid for by the English who now outnumber Emiratis in Dubai. All this talk of “stupid Arabs” merely reflects the ignorance of the poster! It is inspired by the Dubai phenomenon, selected by the Sheikh while the Emirate is shouldering the risk, but the rest is done largely by the English for the English. Since when was the design community so ignorant, xenophobic and dare-I-say-it small-minded?

  • khan brothers

    the best ever zaha congra!keep it the way it is and god is with you.
    god bless you.

  • Ziggy

    She is so desperately trying to be different! Take that computer away from her . . .

  • Dani

    How are they going to explain this sort of tongue in cheek, cheeky project that looks like a female pelvis complete with vagina?

  • karim nassef

    its beyond words discription
    the concept is very cool

  • salar kazemi


  • zippy

    Yes! Madonna was not only a fleeting American superstar. And like the original, Zaha has given birth to beauty. It is not her fault that so many architects are copying her jarring designs; it is a tribute to her creativity and success.
    I only wish she did not have to struggle for so many decades against neophytes and xenophobes. For 20 years I waited in the UK to see one of her winning designs built. Pity I have to experience them on the net; none of her buildings are within 2000 miles of California.
    I hope Zaha brings on more green building experts into her firm. I expect she already has them having seen the rendering of courts in Madrid.

  • thom

    although visually intriguing and seductive it is also self-indulgent and masturbatory. as an educator this is the type of project i am loathe to herald as visionary, seminal or relevant. all of which saddens me and makes me miss the zaha of the 90s and early 2000s

    when i started school in the 90s i was dedicated to her vision, her intellectual rigour and the sophistication she presented in her exploration of spaces, forms, transparencies, voids, motion, the experiential and the phenomenological. hers was a clarion pronouncement of theoretical and spatial acumen amidst the din of other “deconstructivists” – a group of architects of which her association was grossly miscast – such as frank gehry. i was so engrossed with her that i was almost willing to propose marriage…although i’m not british…20 years younger…and queer…

    but now her work is all surface – literally. the interlocking spatial complexities and the manipulation of building programme are now lost. the interiority of her work is now absent and orphaned.

    basically…i think she dropped the ball when she dropped painting. pity. she was a women of intellectual fortitude, authentic vision, social/academic resiliency…and she worked her issey miyake clothes like a new york drag queen on a saturday night!

  • the imagination of zaha hadid in using the curves is higly appreciated , , , but the influance of great architect Le-Corbusier is still seen in Zaha works

  • OK

    I want to know which software Hadid uses in her projects?

  • m7amd

    Ohh GOd
    Who can think of that b4 ?
    Zaha I love you so much ,

  • Hey guys, cut her some slack will ya! who says cubes cannot come out of curvy forms. It is a beau to behold period.

    Indulge yourself while you can.

  • XSoph

    ibrahim abu touq Says -“but the influance of great architect Le-Corbusier is still seen in Zaha works.”

    I think the white exterior of the opera house is the only thing remotely Corbusier about this building. And, as thom said a few courses above, the internal spatial rigor and effciency of plan are not yet present. However, the reality of the design, constructed, may prove me wrong. I hope it does.

  • Steven

    I’m beginning to get bored of her designs… I think it’s gorgeous, but as gorgeous as the tatoo you got when you were 15 because you thought it “looked cool”. Things like this die as quickly as the erupt onto the scene.

  • karan

    @ Volker

    hello… ‘m from india. and aleays at the peak of ecstasy when ever i am exposed to Zaha Hadid’s works.

    I want to work for her. can i do it? ‘m studying architecture. is there any possibility i can do my internship there?

    awaiting you response.


  • I think its amazing…its easy to criticize but takes hard work to produce work like this..

  • blerta

    this is just awsome.I mean how could she imagine something like this.
    i wish to be like her.