Zaha Hadid Architects’ set out to design a leading destination with sustainability at its core as a new national landmark for French Polynesia, while staying true and respectful to the cultural importance of the site and the power of the archipelago’s nature. This was achieved by dividing the 32,000 sq. m brief into smaller volumes and composing them around a stepped park enveloped by tropical vegetation. Echoing a traditional Tahitian village, all venues are directly and independently accessible from the central park running through the heart of the design. The foyers of all venues are open to the outside and extended by large canopies that provide a close relationship to the park’s external plazas. This succession of canopies creates a continuous shelter to protect and guide visitors to each venue. The various scales and textures of the timber architecture and the gentle curvature of the canopies interact with the sunlight and tropical vegetation while framing a cinematic experience of extraordinary views over the lagoon.
Zaha Hadid Architects’ proposal is a very low carbon design that is unique to the climate and resources of Tahiti, with a 375kgCO2e/m2 initial embodied carbon impact, 50% below the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge target and a net zero carbon in operation target (-6kWh/m2/y). The project embodies Polynesian culture and reinterprets the climatic intelligence of its traditional architecture. Environmental performance is primarily based on passive design measures that allow for natural ventilation of all the venues, the use of locally sourced timber and low-carbon concrete together with the rationality of the construction, resulting in an efficient and flexible design while respecting a tight budget. The project also serves its community by maximising the circular economy through the choice of local materials and craftsmanship.
This subtle and inspired composition of all these elements results in a bold, yet sophisticated project that extends beyond geometric and technical complexity. Visitors and tourists are immersed in a vivid and rich celebration of Polynesia, its weather, ecology and materiality, while the islanders embrace their new cultural park that proudly embodies Polynesian values.