Zaha Hadid's BMW Central Building is "a radical piece of thinking," says Amanda Levete

Zaha Hadid 1950-2016: British architect Amanda Levete explains why the BMW Central Building in Leipzig, Germany, is her favourite Zaha Hadid project in the next movie in our exclusive video series.

BMW Central Building by Zaha Hadid
Photograph by Hélène Binet

Hadid's BMW Central Building, which was completed in 2005, connects three separate production buildings on the German car brand's manufacturing complex in Leipzig.

BMW Central Building by Zaha Hadid
Photograph by Hélène Binet

The building hosts offices and meeting rooms for the company's design, management and administrative staff, but also features a large elevated conveyor that moves hundreds of cars through the building every day from one production shed to another.

BMW Central Building by Zaha Hadid
Photograph by Hélène Binet

"It's a language that feels radical," Levete says in the movie, which Dezeen filmed in London as part of our Zaha Hadid video tribute collaboration with Architizer.

"Zaha's work has laid bare to a wide public the importance of celebrating architecture, of doing something that goes beyond the pragmatic."

Fiat Lingotto Factory by Matte-Trucco
Fiat Lingotto Factory by Giacomo Mattè-Trucco

Levete compares the building to the 1920s Fiat Lingotto Factory by Italian architect Giacomo Mattè-Trucco, which featured a test track on the roof.

BMW Central Building by Zaha Hadid
Photograph by Werner Huthmacher

"Historically, I think it is very interesting because it follows the celebration of speed and dynamism from the 1920s Fiat factory," she explains.

"In a sense, she put the racetrack inside the building, but it was the racetrack of assembly and the racetrack of making."

BMW Central Building by Zaha Hadid
Photograph by Werner Huthmacher

The integration of the production line with management and administrative facilities broke down barriers between blue- and white-collar workers, Levete believes.

BMW Central Building by Zaha Hadid
Photograph by Werner Huthmacher

"She took a very complex brief – and I think Zaha was at her best when she had a very complex programme to deal with – and totally turned it on its head," she says.

"The movement of the assembly line broke down hierarchies. It totally blurred the boundary between making, management and designing. It was a very radical piece of design but it was also a very radical piece of thinking."

BMW Central Building by Zaha Hadid
Photograph by Roland Halbe

Levete believes that the BMW Central Building is a prime example of how Hadid's distinctive architectural language was often informed by a higher concept.

BMW Central Building by Zaha Hadid
Photograph by Hélène Binet

"I think what is so important about her work is that the conceptual thinking was revealed in a very new language, which she developed over decades," she says. "There's a kind of coherence to that language in the BMW building."

Amanda Levete
Amanda Levete

Hadid died unexpectedly in March following a heart attack. Levete and a host of other leading architects including Bjarke Ingels, Richard Rogers, Norman Foster and Daniel Libeskind paid tribute to her in our memorial video, which was screened at the Architizer A+ Awards in New York.


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We'll be publishing more movies from the video interviews we conducted over the coming weeks. You can watch them as we publish them on our YouTube playlist: