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Learning Center

Zaha Hadid Architects

The Learning Center is “physically and symbolically the heart of the new campus”, according to the university, housing the most important offices for student services as well as the main library and meeting facilities. It occupies a central position on the central pedestrian path, facing a large plaza, and contains almost 42.000 sq m of space over five floors.
The form combines Hadid’s trademark sensuous curves and
gravity-defying slants, with walls canted at 35 degrees. These create an aero-dynamic quality that makes the building look poised for take-off. But the structure also has a formal complexity. The main, white, volume - a distorted cube shape - drops down along a diagonal section of the roof, creating a central depression and two taller sections at opposing corners. A separate black volume fits into this depression, but then protrudes dramatically at the south elevation, toward the central pedestrian area.
The interior of the building is defined by a relentless Futurism, with a soaring, streamlined entrance space that rises four stories in what the architect calls “a free-formed interior canyon”. The space is mostly brilliant white alongside planes of smooth, sharp concrete. Windows wrap around the building in ribbon-like gestures and this motif continues internally where horizontal wall sections above and below rows of inner windows form continuous lines, becoming solid white balustrades in some places, projecting ribs in others. Steel supports, which help to carry the canted walls, appear in the ground-floor space as exposed rows of slanting columns, which also contribute to the overall feeling of...

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