It is difficult to ignore the designs of Pritzker Prize winning architect Zaha Hadid. Bold, brave, often controversial – her ambitious experiments in form always seem to stir discourse and debate. Hadid’s design for the new civil courts building in Madrid is no exception. Planned as part of the new Campus de la Justicia at Valdebebas in the Spanish capital city, Hadid’s Civil Court is expected to become a focal point among works from Norman Foster, IM Pei and others. While we are not always big fans of Hadid’s obsession with form, we are intrigued by the “intelligent” façade of this Madrid courthouse, that in addition to being extremely eye-catching, is intended to regulate the building’s indoor environment.

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It is of course the intelligent façade that caught our eye with this design. Made of metallic panels, this double-ventilated envelope is a dynamic, moving component that will respond to the environment by opening and closing. We only have an abstract understanding based on the architect’s website, but it sounds like heating, cooling and ventilation will all be moderated and control through this intelligent façade. On the roof, these metal panels will include integrated photovoltaic cells.

The proposed 74,500 square meter (~800,000 square foot) building features a spiraling semi-circular atrium that overlooks an interior public courtyard. This space is meant to draw visitors and connect the building with the surrounding campus. The atrium also brings natural light down through the building and into court rooms.

The project is slated for completion within two years and, as with all of Zaha Hadid’s extreme designs, we definitely plan to follow the progress and check it out in its final form. Always interesting and thought provoking (both good and bad), there is something about the work of this architect that just keeps her in our sights. It will be interesting to see if her latest design for Madrid takes shape with sustainability in mind.

+ Zaha Hadid Madrid Civil Court