Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku

1 Heydar Aliyev Avenue, Baku
Baku, Azerbaijan
Email: info@heydaraliyevcenter.az
Phone: +994 12 505 60 01
Website: https://heydaraliyevcenter.az/
closed on: Mondays
Museum Type: Art, History / City

The Heydar Aliyev Center (Azerbaijani: Heydər Əliyev Mərkəzi) is an important cultural center in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, housed in an iconic building designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. It is located in a 10-hectare public park close to the Baku Convention Center.

The center takes its name from Heydar Aliyev (1923 – 2003), the national leader of Azerbaijan who led the country – from 1969 to 1987, when it was part of the Soviet Union, and from 1993 to 2003 as an independent nation – and is considered the founder of modern Azerbaijan.


Photo © Iwan Baan



Site plan, courtesy of ZHA – Zaha Hadid Architects


Heydar Aliyev Center, photo © Iwan Baan


Photo courtesy of Renkus-Heinz

Along with hosting cultural events and promoting the Azerbaijani language, history, and culture; the Heydar Aliyev Center was conceived as a symbol of the process of Azerbaijan’s nation-building and the country’s recent economic development and modernization.

Encompassing a gross floor area of over 57,000 square meters, the Heydar Aliyev Center is a multi-functional venue that accommodates a 1000-seat auditorium, temporary exhibition spaces, a conference center, workshops, and a museum.



Heydar Aliyev Center, longitudinal section, and ground floor plan, courtesy of ZHA


Photo from Heydar Aliyev Center

The largest cultural hub in the Country, the Heydar Aliyev Center building was designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, following an international design competition held in 2007, and was completed in 2012.
The center is famous for its fluid shape, which the architects intended as a reaction to the rigid architecture of the Soviet era as well as a reference to Islamic calligraphy and elements of traditional Azeri architecture.

Spanning eight levels, the array of column-free functional spaces of the center is enclosed by a free-form curvilinear envelope made in Glass Fibre Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) and Glass Fibre Reinforced Polyester (GFRP). This skin is supported by a load-bearing structure constituted by a complex ensemble of concrete elements and steel frames.


South-west elevation, courtesy of ZHA


Detail of the fiber-reinforced concrete and polyester skin; photo © Helene Binet



Views of the structural steel frame under construction


Photo from Heydar Aliyev Center

The building skin satin finish, as well as the adoption of semi-reflective glass, make the center appearance change from the day, when it visually reacts to changing weather conditions and the sun’s position, to the night, when light “washes from the interior onto the exterior surfaces” (Zaha Hadid Architects).



Photos © Hufton + Crow

The program of activities of the Center combines Azeri history and traditions with contemporary culture, both local and international, and encompasses temporary exhibitions of art, science, and history; music concerts; theatrical performances; screenings; conferences; workshops; educational activities; and special events.



Photos from Heydar Aliyev Center


Photo © Iwan Baan


The auditorium, photo © Helene Binet

Through an ensemble of artworks, historical objects, architectural models, videos, and interactive exhibits, the museum housed in the center features permanent exhibitions focused on the history of Azerbaijan, as well as on the heritage and personal life of national leader Heydar Aliyev.


A portrait of Azerbaijan’s national leader Heydar Aliyev (1923 – 2003)





Views of the museum galleries, photos from Heydar Aliyev Center

The Center also permanently displays artworks by renowned international artists such as Anish Kapoor and Yayoi Kusama.

Notable events held since the opening of the center include art exhibitions of Richard Deacon, Tony Cragg, Yayoi Kusama, Wim Delvoye, Bernard Buffet, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Laurence Jenkell, and Andy Warhol; and concerts of well-known international artists such as Israeli-American violinist Itzhak Perlman and Japanese experimental composer Kitaro.


Image from the “Gazelles” exhibition at the Heydar Aliyev Center

Cover image by © Iwan Baan, courtesy of ZHA

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