Baku is gaining international recognition as a center of cutting-edge architectural design thanks in part to a major award given recently to London-based architect Zaha Hadid for her Heydar Aliyev center. The Azerbaijani capital’s new look has plenty of local fans, but also some detractors.
London’s Design Museum announced in late June that the Heydar Aliyev center was the recipient of its Design of the Year Award. With its swooping curves, the Aliyev center is certainly eye-catching, but it’s far from the only architectural showpiece in Baku. Over the past decade, the center of the city has been transformed by such projects as a new seaside boulevard, the modernist Crystal Hall and the “Flame Towers,” glass-and-steel skyscrapers made to resemble burning torches. Also in progress is the “White City,” an urban renewal project that aims to transform one of the city’s grimiest areas.
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Shahin Abbasov is a freelance correspondent based in Baku.