The Formidable Zaha Hadid
Posted on 01 August 2016
Often named as the most prominent contemporary female architect, Zaha Hadid was a visionary, designing buildings and spaces with a formidable personality, yet with elegance and grace.
Her achievements are plentiful. She was the first Arab woman who received the Pritzker Architecture Prize and received the Stirling Prize twice. In 2012, she was created a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire and in 2015 she became the first woman to be awarded the RIBA Gold Medal in her own right.
Born in Bagdad, Hadid grew up in an Islamic family and was educated at a Catholic school where French was regularly spoken. She would later study math at the American University in Beirut, Lebanon. Hadid and her family left Iraq after the rise of dictator Saddam Hussein and the outbreak of war within Iran. Hadid moved to London in 1972 and enrolled in the Architectural Association School of Architecture, and finally opened her own offices in the 80s.
Her interest in architecture can find its roots in a family trip to the ancient Sumer region in southern Iraq in her teenage years. "My father took us to see the Sumerian cities," she told The Guardian. “The beauty of the landscape - where sand, water, reeds, birds, buildings, and people all somehow flowed together - has never left me. I'm trying to discover - invent, I suppose - an architecture, and forms of urban planning, that do something of the same thing in a contemporary way."
Hadid liberated traditional and formal architecture with the creation of highly expressive, sweeping fluid forms of multiple perspective points and fragmented geometry, evoking the chaos of modern life. She was a pioneer of parametricism, and an icon of neo-futurism.
After her death earlier this year, the world mourns a woman whose intellectual toughness and refusal to compromise on her ideas (even when very few of them were being realised in concrete and steel), the world mourns a woman who should be an inspiration to us all.