Zaha Hadid to create first large scale project in wood, the Sleuk Rith Institute

Zaha Hadid to create first large scale project in wood, the Sleuk Rith Institute

When you think of projects undertaken by Zaha Hadid you immediately think about flowing structures that have been designed in materials such as concrete. However, the Iraqi-British architect has recently revealed a new project and it is to be the first large scale project in wood. The office of Hadid released renders of the Sleuk Rith Institute in Cambodia and if the building lives up to the renders it is looking like it could be among the best work from the architect yet.

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[Image Source: Zaha Hadid]

The Sleuk Rith Institute will be home to the Cambodian non-governmental organization Documentation Centre of Cambodia headquarters. There will be a memorial park of around 68,000 square meters for visitors and this will offer fruit orchids, vegetable gardens, sports fields and Cambodian sculptures.

There are plans for a graduate school, library, auditorium, media centre and research centre along with one of the biggest archives that will house documents related to genocide in Southeast Asia. The institute was created during 1995 so that it could document the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge regime.

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[Image Source: Zaha Hadid]

The design of the Sleuk Rith Institute has deviated from the typical signature styling of Hadid. The centre will revolve around five tapering towers made from wood which range between three and eight storeys in height. To ensure that the building is safe from flooding they are going to be built on terraces that are raised up and the surrounding land slopes away from the building. The park was also designed with a retention pond that will collect rain water, especially in the monsoon season.

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[Image Source: Zaha Hadid]

Causeways provide entry to the Institute and these have been raised up above pools that are fed by rainwater. When viewed from the ground the towers seem to be separate structures, however, they join in several places higher up to provide easy access from department to department. The lower levels of the building are narrow and get shade from the tapered form of the building. To reduce the harshness of the sun on the higher floors there are louvers.

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[Image Source: Zaha Hadid]

The Institute will be made for the most part from timber that has been sustainably sourced and the building is to have photovoltaic cells on the roof, while hot water will come from a solar thermal array. The Institute will have its own wastewater treatment system along with heat exchangers and it will be able to recover water condensation from out of the air and then reuse it later.

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[Image Source: Zaha Hadid]

While using wood for a large scale construction does come with many benefits, at the same time there are some challenges. Being such a large scale construction, large quantities of wood that is sustainably sourced is needed. There must be sufficient protection against the hot and wet climate as wood tends to warp in such conditions and consideration must also be made to combat termites and fire hazards.

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[Image Source: Zaha Hadid]

The Sleuk Rith Institute is to be the first project of Hadid's to use mostly wood as the building material, however the architect does have a great deal of experience in working with wood. He has worked on projects such as the London Aquatic Centre which has a roof made from ash wood, and the Heydar Aliyev Centre with its oak interior. Both of these buildings received plenty of praise from the critics.

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[Image Source: Zaha Hadid]

The Sleuk Rith Institute is scheduled for construction work to commence next year.

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