Now that's form in motion.
It's been a little while since we last got to poke fun at a new Zaha Hadid project. Today, we're given the chance by the Architect's Journal which has renderings of ZHA's latest project, the Chartres Expo center. The design is more of the same, unfortunately, leaving little opportunity for any new jabs. A cursory glance at the images confirms that ZHA are scraping the barrel of their signature digital style. All the tropes are here, from the wobbly lines to the needlessly complex roofscape, its folds and outline entirely inscrutable from the ground, not too mention the equally tortured design statement ("volumes drawn on the roof of the halls in a radial organization, facilitates the transition between the frame and the plant so as to accommodate the requirements of the plateau landscape," yeah yeah).
The plan itself is another example of "mapping," with the design drawing obscure and illegible references to the site's natural topography and nearby cultural landmarks, chiefly, Chartres Cathedral--against which Hadid and co. go to pains to fashion a suitably extravagant "formal contrast." Yet contrasts and contextual discontinuities (i.e. "icons") are what ZHA specialize in after all, so we're not much shocked (or excited) about the star-shaped expo hall, which acts as a vortex--another ZHA standby--pulling in the surrounding landscape and rendering it a sinusoidal mesh of artfully arranged side walks and carpark dividers. It's not bad (it is) as much as pointless and wasteful, just like most expo centers. The firm doesn't see it that way, describing the 16,000 m2 structure as a "compact and functional solution." Maybe, but it's definitely not cheap.
The Chartres Expo is expected to open in late 2013. The project's estimated cost is €25-30 million.