Project Update: The Opus by Zaha Hadid in Dubai

It has been announced that the first commercial offices within The Opus have now been handed over to tenants, some of which include large scale multi-national organisations and boutique creative agencies.

Designed by the late Dame Zaha Hadid for developer Omniyat, BSBG worked as the Lead Consultant on delivering the iconic structure, which has remained in the limelight since it was first unveiled during a function at the British Museum in London back in 2007. BSBG initially became involved in the project in 2009. The global financial downturn of 2008 resulted in a pause in construction, during which time the developer took the opportunity to re-evaluate their targets for the design and end-use.

With the main core of the building already in place at the time of the rethink, the decision was made to move away from the initial concept which presented commercial office space only, and opt rather for a mixed-use proposition.Zaha Hadid The Opus - Dubai ArchitectureZaha Hadid’s first building design for Dubai now incorporates 56,000 square feet of office space, with a boutique five-star 93-room hotel and 90 high-end residences. Leading luxury international hotel chain ME have completed a deal to manage the hotel component under the ‘Melia’ brand. This is set to open in the winter months of 2019.

The building has been the subject of great excitement in Dubai, as it became Zaha Hadid’s first built design in the emirate. Although the design studio produced the brilliant Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi, surprisingly the rapid profusion of tall buildings in Dubai had never before featured a Hadid creation – despite a few proposals that never made it past the concept stages.


The Opus is a phenomenal feat of design and engineering that can be appreciated by all”

Scott Orwin, BSBG Director


The shell & core in detail

On paper, structurally the building is formed of two glass towers simply linked by a walkway at a height of 71 metres, with a four storey podium at ground level. But in enveloping the structure, the project moves rapidly away from the implicit and into the hugely ambitious and technically demanding realm.

The mirrored, curved glass that envelopes the central void within the building is a feat of engineering comparable to any that have been accomplished in realising Hadid’s previous designs. The bridge weighs a staggering 1,000 tonnes and covers three storeys. The curved aluminium frames were manufactured and imported from Denmark, and the ‘melting’ triple glazed glass comes from China – with the largest panels weighing more than 800kg. There are 4,500 of them, and almost every one is unique due to the undulating surfaces within the central void.Zaha Hadid - The Opus Dubai Architecture

Moving in

With construction of the shell and core complete, tenants are embarking upon their own unique office fit outs, while work continues on the hotel component that promises to be an exciting lifestyle destination featuring a rooftop bar, nightclub and Michelin starred restaurants; as well as its 93 rooms. It’s worth mentioning that, quite unlike any other hotel in history, 75% of the rooms in the hotel are individually designed and sized due to the unique shape of the structure.

“It’s been a project like no other,” BSBG Project Director Scott Orwin tells us. “It’s been a privilege to work with Zaha Hadid Architects and Omniyat on delivering The Opus. This is a project that has been extremely challenging to execute and to ensure the design intent is upheld and maintained. Our role in the project also involved effectively delivering the client’s objectives for shifting the use of the building from a purely commercial offering to become mixed-use. This was made particularly challenging when you consider that the rethink came after construction on the core of the building had begun. We had to re-evaluate exit and entry points, and ensure that elevators and escape provisions were able to meet the authority requirements for a hotel. It was a long and intricate process, but the end result speaks for itself. I think The Opus is a phenomenal feat of design and engineering that can be appreciated by all.”

BSBG worked as the Lead Consultant, Executive Architect and Architect of Record on The Opus, also providing Construction Supervision under a Design & Build contract. The group is now working in similar roles on both the Langham Place project and Private Residences by Dorchester Collection – both ongoing Omniyat developments also in Business Bay, Dubai.

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