Zaha Hadid


Architect of organic and futuristic buildings, inventor of objects in which the experimentalism of the architectural work is echoed, designer, painter, set designer, Zaha Hadid was the woman behind a profusion of constructions, materials and substances that challenge the traditional notion of geometry and geography.
Born in Baghdad, in 1950, Zaha Mohammad Hadid grew up in one of the first buildings of the Iraqi capital boasting lines and volumes inspired by Bauhaus, the school of design, visual arts and cutting edge architecture founded in 1919. Years later, she graduated from the American University of Beirut with a degree in mathematics, but the course didn’t fulfil her and she decided to move to London to attend the Architectural Association School of Architecture.
Having set up her own practice in 1979, Zaha Hadid struggled for years to see her challenging projects go beyond drawings and models. More than decade later, the architect saw one of her projects materialise, the IBA Housing building in Berlin, completed in 1993. This was followed, in 1994, by the Vitra Fire Station, also in Germany, with her career rising meteorically in success from that point onwards. Important examples of her work include: MAXXI – National Museum of 21st Century Arts, in Rome (2009); the much-discussed London Aquatics Centre, for the 2012 Olympic Games (completed in 2011); or the Heydar Aliyev Centre, in Baku (2013). Buildings such as the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, in Cincinnati (2003), and the Guangzhou Opera House, in China (2010), are seen as works that have transformed the image of the future, with the creation of spatial concepts defined by a latent progressivism, as much in the design, as in the choice of materials and in the constructive process.
Fascinated by the world, Zaha Hadid revealed an interest that spilled over into different fields. Her main concern lay in promoting the interface between architecture, landscape design and geology, an approach that is present in all of her work and in the way she was able to interpret the morphology of places. In 2004, Zaha Hadid became the first woman to be given the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the top award given to an architect for the importance of their work.


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Text: Cátia Fernandes and Paula Monteiro
Photos: Mary McCartney and Hufton + Crow Photographers

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