Zaha Hadid

Architect (1950 - 2016)

Since the early 1980s, the Anglo-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid has gained international recognition for her vast projects with spectacular forms built in the four corners of the globe. Her career began in 1983 when she won the prize for the competition to design The Peak in Hong Kong (unbuilt). Her leisure club resembles a sort of “Suprematist geology,” a horizontal skyscraper resulting from a reinterpretation of Kasimir Malevitch’s research. The paintings and drawings for the project, with its sharp black and red lines, obliterated the usual codes for representation and sought to translate the “feeling” of these spaces she imagined as liquid. Zaha Hadid’s buildings are in fact landscapes in motion, forming and deforming, fragmenting and seeming to detach from the ground. With her complex geometry she reinvents a fluid spatiality with multiple perspectives, an approach the architect has now enhanced with digital tools. The spiral, disequilibrium and perforation, continuity and connection between the site and the building, all aim to “plunge us into the world.” The Vitra Fire Station in Weil am Rhein (1994), the Hoenheim-Nord tramway station in Strasbourg (2001), the Bergisel ski jump in Innsbruck (2002), the Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati (2003), the Phaeno Sciences Center in Wolfsburg (2005), the BMW Central Building in Leipzig (2005), the MAXXI: Museum of XXI Century Arts in Rome (2009), the Egypt Pavilion at the Shanghai World Fair (2010) and the Guangzhou Opera House in Chine (2010), all attest to the breadth and diversity of the programs Hadid has tackled. Hadid has designed many other buildings, a number of which are currently under construction. Her work touches on domains as varied as architecture (CMA Tower in Marseille, the Aquatic Centre built for the 2012 London Olympic Games), designs for objects, furnishings and spaces, installations, as well as exhibition design and urbanism (master plans for Beijing, Singapore, Bilbao and Istanbul).   

Born in 1950 in Bagdad, Iraq, Zaha Hadid first studied in Switzerland, then mathematics at the American University in Beirut. In 1972, she entered the Architectural Association, where she studied under Elia Zenghelis and Rem Koolhaas, and from whence she would graduate in 1977. She began her professional practice by joining OMA, the firm founded by Rem Koolhaas, whom she assisted as a teacher in the workshops he led at the Architectural Association until 1979, when she opened her own office. In 1988, she participated in the manifesto exhibition, Deconstructivist Architecture, at MoMA in New York. Since then, her work has been the subject of many exhibitions: Total Fluidity in Seoul (2008), Zaha Hadid at the Sonnabend & Rove Galleries in New York (2008), Twirl in Milan (2011). In 2006, the Guggenheim Museum in New York dedicated a major retrospective to her oeuvre. From the first prize she won in 1982, she has consistently won an award every year, most notably the Mies van der Rohe Prize (2003) and the Pritzker Prize (2004). Hadid remains committed to teaching, frequently intervening at Harvard University, the University of Chicago, Columbia University and Yale University.

Nadine Labedade

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