Dubai: The architectural practice set up by the late Zaha Hadid has been chosen to design the ‘Central Hub’ — the entertainment and cultural zone — at the Dh24-billion Aljada development in Sharjah. The is the firm’s first project in the UAE since Hadid’s death in 2016.
The Pritzker Prize-winning architect had been associated with Abu Dhabi’s Shaikh Zayed Bridge and the uniquely shaped Opus from Omniyat.
The development value of the Central Hub is Dh1 billion, excluding the cost of land. For the Sharjah project, “we conducted a global design competition (and) featuring a number of the largest global architectural practices”, said Shaikh Sultan Bin Ahmad Al Qasimi, chairman of Arada, the developer of Aljada.
“But the entry from Zaha Hadid Architects was one that was closest to Arada’s core themes of sustainability, community and technology.
“We believe that Aljada will be a world-class destination not just for Sharjah but for the whole of the UAE, and the winning design from Zaha Hadid Architects matches that aspiration.”
It was last year that Aljada was launched, with a land spread of 2.2 square kilometres in what is the last piece of undeveloped land in the heart of Sharjah City.
The developer has done a few rounds of sales launches on the residential side. But the Central Hub design contract is the first major announcement in regard to the other attractions within Aljada.
The first phase of Central Hub will create a new destination for Sharjah even before the first homeowners move into their houses by the end of 2019.”
— Shaikh Sultan Bin Ahmad Al Qasimi | Chairman of Arada
The master plan for the first phase of Central Hub will be completed by the end of this month and break ground in May. This would put it on track to complete the first phase by year-end. (The master plan for the entire Central Hub will be finished in September.)
Phase 2 will be completed in the fourth quarter of 2019, while the third and final phase of the Central Hub will be delivered by the end of 2020.
The Central Hub occupies 1.9 million square feet, or just under 10 per cent of the overall Aljada. Arada will operate and manage the Central Hub once complete.
“In total, there will be 10 major attractions (within the Central Hub), including the largest children’s adventure and discovery centre in the Northern Emirates, as well as indoor and outdoor sporting venues,” said Shaikh Sultan.
“The first phase will include Arada’s experiential sales centre, as well as an adventure activity zone for families, a food truck destination and outdoor events spaces. We will be revealing more details of the features within the Central Hub master plan in the final quarter of this year.
“In terms of the Central Hub’s integration with the rest of the project, Arada’s plan is to make the whole of Aljada a highly interconnected destination, allowing residents from every part of the city easy access not only to the Hub but other parts too.
"We are doing this not only by stressing the importance of walkability in our master plan, but also creating an internal transport system for residents and visitors featuring electrically powered people movers.
“The first phase of Central Hub will create a new destination for Sharjah even before the first homeowners move into their houses by the end of 2019.
"This is part of Arada’s plan to build a full community — not just a physical development. It is therefore important to us that aspects of the Central Hub are available for residents to enjoy from the very first day they move into Aljada.”