Today we remember the Iraqi-born British architect, Dame Zaha Hadid, the pioneer Pritzker Prize-winning architect who rethought the way buildings are shaped, one of the most successful female architects in the world. Hadid’s legacy forever shaped the world from curvy contemporary architecture to unusual work of art in her postmodern designs.
Her sudden death on the 31st of march 2016 at the age of 65, created a gap in modern world of design as she was a “planet in her own orbit”.
As a child, she went to boarding schools in England and Switzerland before studying maths at the American University of Beirut. In 1972 she moved to London to study architecture. She established “Zaha Hadid Architects” in 1979 which she ran with Patrick Shumacher. Hadid didn’t complete her first architectural project until she was 44 years old. Many thought her unique style was unworkable until Vitra, a furniture manufacturer, commissioned “The Fire Station” her first building, in Weil am Rhein, Germany. Although the building was deemed unsuitable by users, its angled concrete walls and sharply pointed portico gained attention from critics and launched her career.
In the 20 years that she worked as an architect, Hadid designed scores of buildings across the world and here are some of the best-known and most remarkable ones:
A cultural and conference centre in Baku, the Heydar Aliyev Centre contrasts with the Soviet-era blocks that surrounded it. It spans 10,081 square metres and doesn’t contain a single straight line. Describing the building’s design, Hadid said: “Its fluid form emerges from the folds of the natural topography of the landscape and envelops the different functions of the centre.”
This £269 million building housed the three swimming pools there were used during the London 2012 Olympics. It was “inspired by the fluid geometry of water in movement”, Hadid said.
Hadid’s first project in China, the Guangzhou Opera House covers 70,000 square metres and cost $300 million. It contrasts with the sky scrapers that surround it and was inspired by natural earth forms. Hadid described it as the “two pebbles”.
One of the largest buildings in the South Korean capital, the Dongadaemun Design Plaza is an 86,600 square metre centre that is open 24 hours a day. Its name means “Great Gate of the East”. The design contains ecological features such as solar panels, a water recycling system and a double skin.
The Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs design significantly reduces the building’s footprint by ‘floating’ much of the IFI’s facilities above the entrance courtyard to preserve the existing landscape integral to the 2002 master-plan, create a new public space for the campus, and establish links from the university’s Central Oval to the Middle Campus and Mediterranean Sea to the north.
“The idea [is] that visitors can descend into the mountain to explore its caverns and grottos, before emerging through the mountain wall on the other side, out onto the overhanging terrace with its spectacular, panoramic views from Zillertal Alps in the north to the Dolomites and South Tyrol,” Hadid explained.
Zaha Hadid Architects added the glass extension to a disused fire station in Antwerp’s docks to create Port House. The huge volume measures over 100 metres in length, almost matching the scale of the former fire station below it. It allows the building to host 500 Port Authority staff who were previously working across separate sites in the Belgian city.
Currently under construction, the project consists of a five-level development comprised of a department store at the northern end and a mixed-use facility – retail at ground and lower-ground levels and serviced apartments on upper levels with a rooftop restaurant – at the southern end. The total built up area for the Department Store is approximately 26,300 m2.
Since her untimely death in March of last year, Zaha Hadid and her legacy continue to live on. A number of in-progress or as-yet unbuilt buildings have been or are on their way to being completed.