Performing Arts Centre, Abu Dhabi
The scheme for the Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Centre was part of a huge construction project to develop Saadiyat Island, a low lying island off the coast of Abu Dhabi. It formed part of a cultural district designed by an all-star cast of architects: the Zayed National Museum designed by Foster + Partners; the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi by Frank Gehry; the Louvre Abu Dhabi by Jean Nouvel; and, the Maritime Museum by Tadao Ando. In addition, this large site includes commercial office and retail parks, luxury residential premises, and boutique hotels.
The Zaha Hadid-designed Performing Arts Centre which won the prize competition in 2006, includes five theatres: a music hall, concert hall, opera house, large theatre, and a smaller flexible theatre, for a combined seating capacity for 6,300. The Centre also includes an academy for the performing arts.
Among the many challenges posed by the brief and scheme-development, one was particularly complex. The concert hall was situated above the other four venues allowing daylight and views of the sea and city from a huge window behind the stage. SSD conducted many acoustical studies into the effects of asymmetry in performance spaces, and how to respect the large areas of glass in concert hall detracting from a good natural acoustic.
Lobbies for each venue faced the sea in order to place each visitor in context with their surroundings. And, the design overall took advantage of this naturally beautiful vista – a sculptural, organic form growing out of the island and projecting into the seascape.
The Performing Arts Centre project is as yet unrealised.