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Fire damages Zaha’s Baku cultural centre

The roof of Zaha Hadid’s controversial Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre in Baku, Azerbaijan has gone up in flames

The fire broke out on Friday (20 July) last week and was extinguished the same day. By Monday police had detained three people in relation to the incident, reported Trend News Agency.

The interior of the 52,417m² centre – named after former KGB chief and ruler of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev – was not damaged by the blaze, according to the Azeri Ministry for Emergency Situations.

The ministry’s major general, Fuzuli Asadov, told a press conference around 1,000m² of the roof was damaged by the fire.

Source: Radio Free Europe

On fire: Zaha Hadid’s Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre in Baku, Azerbaijan

Helicopters and around 50 fire engines tackled the inferno. No-one was injured.

It is understood the blaze could have been caused by a failure to comply with fire regulations during welding on the 74-metre high roof. Azerbaijan’s Prosecutor General is investigating whether fire safety laws were broken.

Located in Baku’s planned cultural plaza district, the five-storey Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre features a conference hall, three auditoriums, a library and a museum.

The building opened in May this year to mark the 89th birthday of Heydar Aliyev – the country’s Soviet-era ruler who became its president in 1993.

Aliyev, who died in 2003, chaired Azerbaijan’s KGB for more than 20 years and was blamed for human rights violations in the later years of his post-Soviet presidency by Amnesty International.

Commentators including Soviet historian Orlando Figes and philosopher Alain de Botton questioned the wisdom of Hadid’s decision to design the project when it was first uncovered four years ago.

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