Zaha Hadid


Zaha Hadid


Zaha Hadid, one of the most extraordinary figures of the architectural world, died at the age of 65 in Miami, Florida, succumbing to complications surrounding a case of bronchitis. Born in Baghdad, Iraq, she studied mathematics at the American University of Beirut. In the 1970s she enrolled at the Architectural Association in London, where she stayed to live most of her life. At AA she connected with two young professors, Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis, and assimilated their passion for the dislocated forms of constructivism. She collaborated in their recently founded Office for Metropolitan Architecture before setting up her own practice in 1979.

In the first stage of her career, scant in commissions but extremely rich in ideas, what she built was a universe of her own, one which was more artistic than architectural, and expressed in two dimensions: her large deconstructivist canvases of crystallographic landscapes and fractured topographies where, as the engineer Peter Rice later said, Zaha “wanted everything crooked”; and the construction of her personage, excessive, temperamental, and totally aestheticized, which perhaps had a bearing on the success of her architecture, even though until 2004 she only had a handful of small manifestos to show for, such as the Vitra fire station at Weil am Rhein (1993).

Everything changed in 2004 with the Pritzker Prize, which produced one of the most notable transformations ever seen in contemporary architecture. Zaha, up to then a cult designer, was suddenly an iconic star winning competitions and receiving commissions all over the world, for which she had to turn her artist’s atelier into a global corporation employing hundreds. The result was an excellent brand but an irregular line-up of buildings – some as brilliant as the BMW Center in Leipzig (2005) or the MAXXI of Rome (2010), others as disappointing as the Bridge Pavilion in Zaragoza (2008). In all of them, the fractures and acute angles of her first phase gave way to the curve and the zigzag, just as the deconstructivist collisions became smooth flows that ultimately symbolized the liquid nature of the globalization that Zaha served with all her talent. 

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