The Opus, a mixed-use commercial and retail development by the late Zaha Hadid, is an artistic mirrored glass tower project that appears to defy gravity in Dubai’s Burj Khalifa district. This artistic masterpiece with offices, a hotel, apartments, restaurants, retail stores, a relaxation area and a basement is being developed by Omniyat Properties, with an investment of $465 million, and they aim to complete it by the end of 2020.
Two towers become a singular whole
The Opus, designed as two separate towers, converges into a singular whole, spanning 84 300m² which take the form of a cube. The design has no columns across floor plates internally, so the interiors maximise the excellent views of Burj Dubai, the Dancing Tower, Dubai Financial Market and waterfront from within and provide maximum natural light for office spaces.
It will have a five-storey basement, a retail podium across the ground, first and second floor, 17 levels of office space, four levels of retail space and an uppermost floor including a tranquillity zone, beach deck, reflective pool, shaded roof terrace, roof garden, media zone and a gym. While the building will appear to be a giant cube externally, with a hole through its centre, it will be a pair of towers connected at the top and bottom to create the void effect.
The void is a window to the city
The complex is constructed of three separate towers, but the building will appear as a singular unified whole, with a distinctive space through the middle, which has been dubbed the “void”. The precise orthogonal geometries of the elemental glass cube of the Opus contrasts dramatically with the fluidity of the eight-storey void at its centre.
The cube, which has been “eroded” in its centre, creates a totally fluid, free-form void structured by a conventional system of slabs stacked vertically. The idea with the void was for it to be a large window to the city and adjacent landmark buildings, with the interiors of the void fully engineered with a tinted double-glazed curved glass curtain wall that will allow eye-catching views.
Cube comes alive with night lights
The glass facade is specially designed with reflective patterns in the form of pixelated striations applied onto the glass to provide a degree of reflectivity and materiality to the cube, helping to reduce solar glare inside the building. The cube’s double-glazed insulating facades incorporate an ultraviolet (UV) coating and emphasises clarity of the building’s orthogonal form, while dissolving its volume through the play of light between changing reflections and transparency.
The floating cube itself will be an impressive sight in daytime, but the void will come alive at night when it is activated with dramatic lighting. The inside of the void will be lit up at night by a constellation of lights, each individually controllable set into the undulating glass.
Each of the towers will have service lifts and the two halves of the building on either side of the void will be linked by a four-storey atrium at ground level, with vertical mini atriums carved out between the edges of the slab and the facade to make interesting niches between floors. Above the gap, a three-storey bridge will begin 71m from the ground.
Spectacular hotel opens
The ME Dubai Hotel, housed in the Opus, opened in March 2020. It has 74 bedrooms and 19 suites; and is the only hotel in the world that has had both its exterior and interior designed by the late Hadid. The hotel lobby sits directly under the Opus void, which forms its glass ceiling and three storeys of galleries, while projecting balconies ring the perimeter of the space.
A golden wall curves behind the white hotel reception desks, which are angled and lit by strips of lighting that match the balconies above. The ME Dubai Hotel features furniture such as seating pods and benches by Zaha Hadid Design, while slim golden edges top glass balustrades of curving balconies above that highlight white marble floors.
Meticulous design to match the exterior
Each hotel bedroom features a Zaha Hadid-designed bed with a mattress that sits on a sculptural frame projecting from the wall. In the bathroom, the sinks and showers come from the 2015 Vitae collection for Noken Porcelanosa, with twin mirrors that seem to have curves to match the Opus central void hanging above the sinks.
As part of a drive for sustainability, the ME Dubai Hotel makes every room plastic-bottle-free, issuing every guest with a stainless steel water bottle that can be used at the water dispensers located around the hotel. In the dining areas there are no buffets to cut down on food waste and onsite composters digest organic waste.
The Opus is a striking, fluid spatial building that is meticulously designed to provide optimal use of the space, with materials sourced to provide durability, efficiency, operation and maintenance while reducing noise to sustain privacy. It is visually stunning and allows every occupant to experience a better-quality working environment, using the latest technological advances, and changes the way we look at office spaces.
Acknowledgement and thanks go to Zaha Hadid Architects for the information contained in this article.