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Zaha Hadid's The Heydar Aliyev Center in Azerbaijan wins Design of the Year 2014
The Heydar Aliyev Center. Photo: Iwan Baan.
LONDON.- Zaha Hadid’s Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku, Azerbaijan has won the Design Museum Design of the Year Award 2014. Hadid is the first ever woman to win the top prize in the competition, now in its seventh year.

The Heydar Aliyev Center, which features Hadid’s signature elaborate curves and undulations, is also the first architectural project to be named Design of the Year – previous winners include the London 2012 Olympic Torch, the Plumen lightbulb, and the British government’s GOV.UK website.

2014’s Design of the Year winner was chosen by a distinguished panel of experts from over 70 nominated designs in the categories of Architecture, Digital, Fashion, Furniture, Graphics, Product and Transport. All of the nominated designs are on display in an exhibition at the Design Museum until 25 August 2014.

Zaha Hadid said: ‘We’re absolutely delighted to receive the Design of the Year Award. The surface of the Heydar Aliyev Centre’s external plaza rises and folds to define a sequence of public event spaces within; welcoming, embracing and directing visitors throughout the building. It’s an architectural landscape where concepts of seamless spatial flow are made real – creating a whole new kind of civic space for the city.’

Jury member Kim Colin, Industrial Facility said: ‘A great architect needs a great client, technology, the public, the landscape and the right time. The jury felt that for Zaha's office, this is a pinnacle moment in their portfolio, a sign of international maturity. The jury argued heatedly for and against, and then we finally agreed unanimously that the project deserves our utmost respect. This architecture should make us talk for years to come.’

Chair of the Jury Ekow Eshun, writer, journalist and broadcaster said: ‘It’s beautiful, it’s inspiring, it’s the clear vision of a singular genius and we thought it was a remarkable piece of work.’

Jury member Ben Terrett, Government Digital Service said: ‘It's a stunning, iconic building. One thing that struck me was how it really feels like the swooping curves are the structure. Too often with this type of design it's a facade of something interesting put on top of the usual box. This is different.’

Jury member Piers Gough, CZWG Architects LLP said: ‘An intoxicatingly beautiful building by the most brilliant architect at the height of her office's powers. It's swooning fluid on the outside and inside, belieing its size and complexity. The thousand and one geometrical junctions are consummately mastered and segue seamlessly into each other. Sitting atop a swooping zigzag landscape that would be a winner even without the building, It is as pure and sexy as Marilyn's blown skirt. Without an ounce of awkward argumentative modernism in its bones. It rather reads like a sweet love letter to Zaha's homelands.’

Nick Perry, Head of London, Bird & Bird said: ‘This is a truly remarkable piece of architecture. Designs of the Year exists to find and celebrate work such as this, and the breadth and depth of work which has been celebrated is testament to the diverse nature of design. Innovation and design are of huge importance to business, and all of the individuals involved have demonstrated exceptional insight and skill. We are thrilled to have been involved in supporting Designs of the Year this year.’

For the first time this year Designs of the Year included a Social Vote – an opportunity for design lovers from all over the world to vote for their favourite nominated design through the exhibition’s online Social Vote platform. Over 18,000 people took part and the final winner was Phonebloks, designed by Dave Hakkens.

The Designs of the Year 2014 Category Winners:

• Architecture: HEYDAR ALIYEV CENTER, BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - Designed by Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher

• Digital: PEEK (PORTABLE EYE EXAMINATION KIT) - Designed by Dr Andrew Bastawrous, Stewart Jordan, Dr Mario Giardini, Dr Iain Livingstone

• Fashion: PRADA S/S14 - Designed by Miuccia Prada

• Furniture: PRO CHAIR FAMILY - Designed by Konstantin Grcic

• Graphics: DRONE SHADOWS - Designed by James Bridle /

• Product: THE SEABOARD GRAND - Designed by Roland Lamb and Hong-Yeul Eom

• Transport: XL1 CAR – Designed by Volkswagen

The Designs of the Year 2014 jury:

• Kim Colin, Industrial Facility

• Ekow Eshun, writer, journalist and broadcaster - Chair of the jury

• Tina Gaudoin, Acting Editor in Chief of Elle Decoration and independent fashion journalist

• Piers Gough, CZWG Architects LLP

• Frith Kerr, Studio Frith

• Ben Terrett, Government Digital Service

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