HIGHLIGHT: ZAHA HADID

HIGHLIGHT: ZAHA HADID

Zaha Hadid, born in 31 October 1950 in Baghdad, was an Iraqi-British architect. She commenced her college studies at the American University in Beirut in the field of mathematics. She moved to London in 1972 to study architecture at the Architectural Association and upon graduation in 1977, she joined the Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). She also taught at the Architectural Association (AA) with OMA collaborators Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis.

Known as an architect who consistently pushes the boundaries of architecture and urban design, her work experiments with new spatial concepts intensifying existing urban landscapes and encompassing all fields of design, from the urban scale to interiors and furniture. The world lost a true visionary in 31 March 2016, when the 65-year-old Hadid died unexpectedly in a Miami hospital.

Zaha Hadid in her London office, UK, circa 1985. (Photo by Christopher Pillitz)

Born in the early 50s, Zaha Hadid lived her childhood during the brief golden years of modern-time Iraq. The ruling government back then decided to put the increased national share of Petroleum money to use by bringing on pioneers of modern architecture, like Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Oscar Niemeyer, and Walter Gropius, to modernize the city of Baghdad, issuing a hopeful atmosphere. There were, also, Zaha’s liberal parents who have encouraged her curiosity and brought her up to be independent. All of which contributed to her strong and confident personality, showing its first sign by the age of 11 when she decided that she wanted to be an architect.

Vitra Fire Station (1989–93) in Weil am Rhein, Germany, was Hadid’s first major built project. Composed of a series of sharply angled planes, the structure resembles a bird in flight.

She was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, in 2004. She received the UK’s most prestigious architectural award, the Stirling Prize, in 2010 and 2011. In 2012, she was made a Dame by Elizabeth II for services to architecture, and in 2015 she became the first and only woman to be awarded the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects. Hadid was described by The Guardian of London as the “Queen of the curve”, who “liberated architectural geometry, giving it a whole new expressive identity”.

The concrete-and-glass Pierres Vives building in Montpellier, France, will house three government departments.
The Guangzhou Opera House in China’s Guangdong province is shaped to resemble two pebbles on the bank of the Pearl River.

Her firm, established in 2006, has a wide portfolio beyond the walls of architecture including accessories, jewellery, interiors, exhibition and set design. She’s also created limited-edition furniture fit for a truly luxury lifestyle, like the well-loved Le-a Table, born of a collaboration between Zaha Hadid Design and Leblon Delienne. The sculptural fibreglass coffee table was inspired by Princess Leia’s iconic hairstyle in the Star Wars film franchise.

Le-a Table, born of a collaboration between Zaha Hadid Design and Leblon Delienne

Hadid became famous for her intensely futuristic architecture characterized by curving façades, sharp angles, and severe materials such as concrete and steel. In all her projects, Hadid further explored her interest in creating interconnecting spaces and a dynamic sculptural form of architecture. Her projects were considered too avant-garde to be taken beyond sketches, and she started to gain a reputation as a “paper architect”. Her public buildings are often described as dynamic, as if they’re a freeze-frame of an action shot. Zaha Hadid’s style embraces striking lines, sometimes bold with expressive curves; other times brutalist in essence.

Phaeno Science Center in Wolfsburg, Germany. It was designed by Zaha Hadid.
Hadid’s 2005 addition to the Ordrupgaard Museum, just north of Copenhagen, is constructed from black lava concrete and glass, which reflects its lush surroundings.

The structures she designed successfully accomplished what mystifies so many when they observe great architecture: She took the strongest materials in the world and manipulated them to form objects that appear soft and sturdy at the same time. Hadid’s projects, many of which transform depending on the viewer’s perspective, turn architectural convention on its head.

Hewn from concrete and steel, the National Museum of the 21st Century Arts (MAXXI) in Rome is built on the site of a disused military compound.

Hadid stated that her architectural designs were not intended as a personal stamp on the world, or an act of self-indulgence. Rather, addressing 21st-century challenges and opportunities is the cornerstone to Zaha Hadid’s style and creations.

The Riverside Museum, an addition to the Glasgow Museum of Transport in Scotland, cuts a striking figure with its zigzagging zinc-clad roof.

Architecture, she claimed, “must contribute to society’s progress and ultimately to our individual and collective wellbeing.” The buildings born of her vision and the collective genius of her firm Zaha Hadid Architects, may sometimes seem fantastical, triumphant and even a bit loud, but they all stem from architecture’s base function – to facilitate and even perform everyday life.

Galaxy Soho, a retail, office, and entertainment complex in Beijing, comprises four spherical structures clad in aluminum and stone that are bound together by pedestrian bridges.

Whether it’s for her more controversial designs, her unrealised dreams or her masterpieces which have come to fruition, Zaha Hadid’s style is rightly globally recognised, and she has obtained legendary status since her death in March 2016.

Capital Hill Residence was Zaha Hadid's only private residential design. Located in a forest near Moscow, the $140 million project is half submerged into the ground.
Heydar Aliyev Centre
Clad in reinforced concrete and polyester, the 619,000-square-foot Heydar Aliyev Centre in Baku, Azerbaijan, is known for its swooping façade.

Source: engelvoelkers.com; architecturaldigest.com

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