Zaha Hadid channels Iraqi roots to create new Middle East Centre for Oxford University

by Kate Corney | 28 May 2015

Zaha Hadid has designed a new Middle East Centre for Oxford University. Hadid, who was born in Iraq, expressed hope that the new building would help the Middle East Centre to continue its work in helping to foster greater understanding of the region.

Hadid designed the building to connect existing protected properties and trees and has stainless steel cladding to reflect natural light and give it an ephemeral quality.

The £11m (US$16.8m, €15.4m) building provides a new 118-seat lecture theatre and doubles the size of the Middle East Centre’s library and archive, with an additional 1,200sq m (12,916sq ft) of floor space.

The Investcorp Building, named after the investment firm which donated the project funds, was commissioned by St Antony’s College and spans two Victorian buildings on Woodstock Road in the college grounds.

The Middle East Centre holds Oxford University’s collection on the modern Middle East, a world-class collection of private papers and historic photographs used by scholars and researchers.

The centre now plans to expand its programme of university and public seminars, lectures and debates.

Hadid said: “The work of the Middle East Centre contributes to the global discourse and greater understanding of the region.

“The new Investcorp Building connects disparate buildings within the college, defining a series of generous spaces for the centre’s renowned archive, library and seminar programmes; allowing the Middle East Centre to expand its commitment as a forum of research, understanding and open debate.”

Founded in 1957, the Middle East Centre at St Antony’s College serves as the University of Oxford's facility for research and teaching on the Arab world, Iran, Israel and Turkey from the 19th century to the present day.

Director of the Middle East Centre, Dr Eugene Rogan, said: “As one of Britain’s most acclaimed architects, with roots firmly in the Middle East, Zaha Hadid was the ideal choice for this project.

“Her history parallels our vision of Oxford’s Middle East Centre as a British centre of excellence with deep roots in the region. With this new building, the Middle East Centre enters a new era as one of the world’s finest research facilities on this area of crucial public interest.”

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Zaha Hadid has designed a new Middle East Centre for Oxford University. Hadid, who was born in Iraq, expressed hope that the new building would help the Middle East Centre to continue its work in helping to foster greater understanding of the region. Hadid designed the building to connect existing protected properties and trees and has stainless steel cladding to reflect natural light and give it an ephemeral quality. The
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The £11m (US$16.8m, €15.4m building spans two Victorian buildings of St Antony’s College / ZHA / Luke Hayes
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