16 July 2020
Dubai is the city in which architectural dreams come true. It is an urban oasis and an ideal testing ground for the visionary and ambitious architects who go there to defy the laws of engineering, let alone those of gravity. Not for nothing, some of the most spectacular skyscrapers in the world can be found in its territory, including the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. Cutting edge construction never seems to pause here. The last in order of construction, but one of the most stunning skyscrapers is the Opus, designed by Zaha Hadid in 2007 and completed by her studio. The building contains the headquarters of the luxurious Me Dubai, the first of the Meliá brand hotels in the Middle East, as well as offices, private residences, restaurants and cafés.
Inaugurated last Spring, the Opus is on target to become a new city landmark. The hand (and the software) of the Iraqi archistar stands out a mile. The building is the upshot of that particular mode of design that finds its raison d'être in geometric parametrics, the results of which are just as experimental and bold as they are sophisticated. The 93-metre tall building seems to take on a different look depending on the point from which it is observed, revealing elevations that narrate different design stories because of having been conceived as autonomous and distinct entities. One façade looks like a square volume, hollowed out in the middle by a portion, the shape of which is difficult to identify in terms of traditional geometric figures, determines the monumental central void; the other is the result of the pairing of the two towers linked by an asymmetrical 3-storey bridge more than 70 metres above ground and by a four-storey atrium at ground level. Just as its designer intended, the building explores and embodies opposing concepts: opacity and transparency; solid and void; static and dynamism.
A unique characteristic of the Opus, which spans 84,300 square metres overall, are the façades of the cube, made of double-glazed insulating windows with a UV protection coating and a motif that protects the internal spaces from too much solar gain. This pattern is repeated all over the building, underscoring the orthogonal shape of the cube, while also minimising its volume thanks to the fluid movement of light, reflections and transparency. The 6,000 square metre elevation of the void, planned with the use of 3D digital modelling, is made up of 4,300 flat and curved glass components. While by day, the exterior of the cube reflects the sky, the sun and the city, by night the void is lit by dynamic LED lighting, making for a decidedly enthralling look. The illumination, like the ventilation, is regulated by automatic movement sensors, conceived to eliminate needless energy waste.
The furnishings play a large part in the uniqueness of the structure and, especially, of the hotel. All 74 rooms and 19 suites, as well as the common parts, are furnished exclusively with furniture designed by Zaha Hadid Design: from the Petalinas sofas to the Opus beds, the Work & Play divan, a special “combined” furnishing piece designed for the swankiest rooms, to the Vitae bathroom collection, designed by Hadid in 2015.
As if that wasn’t enough, what might well set the seal on an unforgettable stay is the Spanish cuisine served at the Central Cosmo Tapas & Bar restaurant or the Japanese Robatayaki cuisine in the ROKA restaurant, or perhaps the cocktails served at the poolside Refuel & Relax bar, the 650 m2 gym with cutting edge equipment or the spa, boasting avant-garde treatments for a truly all-enveloping relaxation experience.