© Zaha Hadid Architects
© Zaha Hadid Architects
© Zaha Hadid Architects

Nuragic and Contemporary Art Museum

Featuring works from the ancient Nuragic civilisation alongside more modern offerings, Zaha Hadid’s new art museum in Cagliari, Sardinia, sought to capture inspiration from the nearby sea; its freeform design, which combines four complex independent superstructures, is said to be an interpretation of the flowing unsymmetrical protrusions of Mediterranean coral reefs. 

The ambitious architectural design had many impacts in terms of structure; the interdependency of various horizontal and vertical elements made two-dimensional structural analysis impossible, so we had to take on a much more iterative, comprehensive approach. The architects had developed their design using geometrical modelling software, and in setting up a BIM system we were able to use this as a basis for our structural analysis. 

Some areas of the building required basement space for plant and other storage; a high water table demanded the use of water pumps during excavation, so we specified our sheet-piled walls to withstand the pressures exerted by the groundwater. Reinforced concrete slabs varied according to ground conditions -ground-bearing below Building 3 and suspended on piles beneath Buildings 1 and 2. 

For the superstructure design we had to be creative, reviewing the structural zones in order to define the vertical and lateral load paths in a form which combined several different grid systems. Floors comprised concrete flat slabs with columns where possible, with reinforced slabs incorporating downstand beams where longer spans were necessary. In certain locations, and given the building’s location in a seismic zone, walls and cores were utilised for primary lateral stability. 

Having considered a number of options for the building skin, we designed a lightweight hot-rolled steel skeleton coated in sprayed concrete, thus limiting the need for reinforcement within the thickness of the concrete, and reducing its self-weight. Steel was also used for the roof structure, forming efficient connections with the inclined façade columns.

Free-flowing interlinked structures taking their inspiration from the sea nearby in Cagliari, Sardinia

Sardinia, Italy
Regione Autonoma Della Sardegna
Zaha Hadid Architects
£ 33 million