Categories ArchitecturePosted on

Thank you Madame Zaha Hadid

Hadid was born in Baghdad (Iraq) in 1950. After obtaining a Mathematics degree at the American University, Beirut, she moved to London in 1971 to study architecture at the Architectural Association, where she graduated in 1977. She began her own practice in London in 1980 and, in 1983, her Peak Project was the winning design in a prestigious Hong Kong competition to build a private club, located in the hills of Kowloon.

Hadid was born in Baghdad (Iraq) in 1950. After obtaining a Mathematics degree at the American University, Beirut, she moved to London in 1971 to study architecture at the Architectural Association, where she graduated in 1977. She began her own practice in London in 1980 and, in 1983, her Peak Project was the winning design in a prestigious Hong Kong competition to build a private club, located in the hills of Kowloon.

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Vitra Fire Station, Weil am Rhein. Christian Richters

Hadid was already famous for her neo-constructivist drawings, when Rolf Fehlbaum, owner of Vitra, gave her the opportunity to construct her first building in 1994: Vitra Fire Station. Ten years later, she won the Pritzker Prize and never stopped working, becoming one of the most fruitful architects in history.

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Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, Cincinnati. Nick Guttridge (Corbis)

She had to prove her talent more than any of her colleagues: she was a woman, an architect and, presumably, a Muslim (even if she wasn’t practising), trying to find a place in a predominately male profession in a country that wasn’t her own. It was hard work. She won the international design competition to build the Cardiff Bay Opera House in 1995 but the project failed to obtain support and was savaged by the media as being “elitist” and ugly; it was later commissioned to Norman Foster, who had won second place, but Foster, wisely, turned the offer down.

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Phaeno Science Centre, Wolfsburg. Klemens Ortmeyer

Hadid resisted, fighting against all odds, and became one of the most imaginative British architects who consistently pushed the boundaries of architecture and urban design. Her work experimented with new spatial concepts intensifying existing urban landscapes and encompassing all fields of design, from the urban scale to interiors and furniture.

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Congress Station. Hungerburgbahn Station, Innsbruck. Carlos S. Pereyra

The first permanent building by Zaha Hadid in the UK was Maggie’s Centre at Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy, opened in 2006 to offer support for those affected by cancer. But, first, she had to prove her talent abroad. Hadid’s first US project was the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, in Cincinnati (2003). She was closely watched by the profession during its construction to observe how she transformed her two-dimensional drawings into the three dimensions of reality. And she succeeded. The building was described by New York Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp, as “the most important American building to be completed since the Cold War.”

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The Bridge Pavilion, Expo Zaragoza 2008. Claudio Álvarez

Widely misunderstood by the mainstream, she didn’t allow that to stop her building stunning designs such as the Phaeno Science Centre, an interactive science centre in the German city of Wolfsburg that stands on stilts, allowing pedestrians to walk underneath. Also, the BMW Central Building in Leipzig, a $60 million complex built to manufacture the BMW 3 Series. In 2007, she built the Hungerburgbahn stations, Innsbruck; four stations that were part of the Hungerburgbahn hybrid funicular railway in Innsbruck, Austria, consisting of lightweight roofs on concrete plinths. She constructed the Bridge Pavilion for Expo 2008 in Zaragoza, Spain, a 280-metre building that crossed the Ebro, acting as the main entrance to the Expo site.

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Guangzhou Opera House. Tuul & Bruno Morand (corbis)

2010 was a very prolific year: she built the CMA CGM Tower, Marseille; the MAXXI – National Museum of the 21st Century Arts in Rome; the Guangzhou Opera House in China, and the striking Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi, an 842-metre bridge built at a cost of $300 million with a curved design that “evokes the undulating dunes of the desert”.

1459437061_557063_1459440047_album_normalEvelyn Grace Academy, Brixton. Luke Hayes

In the UK, she designed the Evelyn Grace Academy in Brixton (2010) which broadened the educational diversity of this active and historic London area; the Riverside Museum, Glasgow (2011) and the London Aquatic Centre, built to accommodate the London 2012 Olympics, which includes two 50-metre swimming pools and a 25-metre diving pool.

1459437061_557063_1459438712_album_normalLondon Acuatics Centre. Stefan Wermuth (Reuters). A concept inspired by the fluid geometry of water in motion, creating spaces and a surrounding environment in sympathy with the river landscape of the Olympic Park. The undulating roof sweeps up from the ground as a wave, inspired by the fluid geometry of water in motion.

1459437061_557063_1459442556_album_normalLondon Acuatics Centre. Hufton + Crow (Corbis)

Hadid won the London Design Museum’s Design of the Year award 2014 for the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre, built in the capital of Azerbaijan, Baku. It is noted for its flowing, curved style that eschews sharp angles. One of her last works was in St Antony’s College, University of Oxford, where Hadid designed the new 1,200 sqm Investcorp Building for the Middle East Centre. Her London practice was kept very busy, with projects on every continent and she was about to move her firm’s archive to the old Design Museum building at Butler’s Wharf on the Thames.

1459437061_557063_1459438714_album_normalHeydar Aliyev Cultural Centre, Baku. Helene Binet and Iwan Baa

May she rest in peace.

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