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King asks Hadid to design sharia court

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Zaha Hadid Architects is one of four practices approached to design a sharia law court in Mecca, Saudi Arabia

King Abdullah bin Abd al-Aziz earlier this year invited six practices including Foster + Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects and Danish firm Henning Larsen to bid for the work in the holy city.

It is understood Foster + Partners and Henning Larsen both refused to take part. The Danes ruled out any involvement due to ‘domestic politics’, while Foster + Partners announced its withdrawal by fax.

Zaha Hadid, who this week was named UNESCO Artist for Peace in honour of her work promoting ‘intercultural dialogue and excellence in design’, refused to deny her continued participation in the competition.

It is understood the landmark building will be built on a key city-centre site, close to the Holy Mosque expansion project where extensive demolition is already underway. Hadid, Foster + Partners and AECOM (then Faber Maunsell) all pitched for the top-secret redesign project (AJ 27.11.08).

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is poised to release details of a new skyscraper park designed by a raft of starchitects and UK-based practices at the King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh.

The 160ha Henning Larsen-masterplanned development will create three million square metres of commercial space. Architects already designing buildings for the site include: SOM, FXFOWLE, Will Bruder, HOK, RMJM, Foster + Partners, Henning Larsen, Behnisch Architekten and Gensler.

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