Hadid, Gehry, Nouvel and Ando plan district of theatres and museums in Arab emirate

Four of the world’s best known architects – the UK’s Zaha Hadid, the US’ Frank Gehry, France’s Jean Nouvel and Japan’s Tadao Ando – have unveiled designs for a cultural district in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahayan intends the district, on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island, to raise the emirate’s status above that of neighbouring Dubai.

Hadid’s performing arts centre is inspired by plant forms and will seat a total of 6,300 people. Hadid said: “As it winds through the site, the architecture increases in complexity, building up height and depth.”

Gehry’s contemporary art museum is a frenetic cluster of irregular shapes in which four storeys of galleries are encircled by two rings of lower galleries.

Ando’s maritime museum will include a reflective surface and a ship-like interior.

Nouvel will house a classical museum beneath a translucent dome interlaced with light-diffusing patterns.

Hadid and Gehry’s buildings will be developed by the US’ Guggenheim Foundation.