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King Abdullah II House of Culture & Art

  • Amman, Jordan
  • 2008 – TBC
  • The Greater Amman Municipality
  • Design
  • 32371m2
  • Total Floor Area: 26,800m2
  • Footprint Area: 5,363m2
  • Concert Theatre: 1,600 seat
  • Small Theatre: 400 seat

Our designs for a new performing arts centre were inspired the ancient city of Petra – its interplay with nature and the processes of erosion that have reshaped its contours. In this new building erosion becomes the sole means of articulating public spaces, while remaining masses contain the performance spaces.

Inspiration for the King Abdullah II House of Culture and Art came from the ancient city of Petra – an oasis and sanctuary of great beauty, providing a perfect analogy for a performing arts centre that aspires to be an oasis and sanctuary for contemporary culture.

Petra also exemplifies the extraordinary interplay between architecture and nature – in particular, the way that the city’s rose-coloured stone walls have been fissured, carved and polished by fluvial erosion and sedimentation over the centuries. Contemporary architecture strives to emulate nature and learn from the intricate complexity and elegance of its forms. So, from Petra, we learned and reapplied the principles of fluid erosion.

Indeed, erosion provided the sole means of articulating all public spaces in and around the new performing arts centre, creating a strong, seamless relationship between ‘interior’ and ‘exterior’. The interior public foyer is a continuous multi-level channel cut right through the building from north to south, creating a space that is literally ‘light-flooded’ – a beacon and a lamp of welcome.

While erosion forms the public foyer, the remaining mass holds the performance spaces – a large concert theater and smaller auditorium – the former exposed at the end of the pubic foyer, the latter visible overhead at the front of the building where public foyer becomes public plaza.

Further subtle nuances are created by treating the structure’s exterior volume as a ‘fluid’ rather than rigid box – its volume gently swelling, echoing the ancient columns of Petra, its ground level surfaces sloping and rising between deeper erosions to create natural amphitheaters.

These quasi-topographic manipulations of ground surfaces are both evocative and communicative, helping to orientate visitors and encourage them to congregate in at all levels. In particular, at the second, elevated foyer level which provides wonderful views across Amman.


Zaha Hadid Architects


Zaha Hadid with Patrik Schumacher

Project Director

Charles Walker

Project Architect

Tariq Khayyat

Design Team

Diego Rossel, Kutbuddin Nadiadi, Gerry Cruz, Xiaosheng Li, Matteo Melioli. Akif Cinar, Effie Kuan, Fernando Poucell, Hyunbai Jun, Natacha Viveiros

Competition Team

Britta Konbel, Melike Altinisik, Renata Dantas, Daniel Widrig, Maria Araya, Dominiki Dadasti, Sylvia Georgiadou, Bence Pap, Eleni Pavilidou


Ramboll, London


Office for Visual Interaction Inc, New York

Theatre & Acoustics

Artec Consultants Inc (New York)

Structural/ M&E

Dar Al-Handasah (Beirut-Cairo)