Zaha Hadid - Portrait

Zaha Hadid

Zaha Hadid was one of the first women to leave her mark on architecture. For example, the world-famous ski jump on the Bergisel in Innsbruck and the London Aquatics Centre are based on designs by her. She was known above all for her precise sketches and the clear lines of her buildings.

However, Hadid’s visions were long regarded as unrealizable, which is why she only made her breakthrough in the 1990s. In 2004, she was the first woman ever to win the Prizker Prize, the world’s most important award for architects.


Biography of Zaha Hadid

Zaha Hadid was born on 31 October 1950 in the Iraqi capital Baghdad. Her parents were wealthy intellectuals who oriented themselves to the lifestyle of the West. Already as a child, Hadid had the dream of becoming an architect. After graduating from school, she studied mathematics at the American University of Beirut. Between 1972 and 1977 she earned a degree in architecture at the Architectural Association School in London.

She then worked for six months at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture in Rotterdam, founded by Rem Koolhaas, until she was appointed as a lecturer at the Architectural Association School. She carried out this activity for ten years, but in 1980 she founded her own architectural practice in London. She was able to finance this because she had previously won an architectural competition in Hong Kong.

The architect Zaha Hadid was ahead of her time

It soon became apparent that Hadid’s designs were considered too daring by many builders. Thus she won the repeatedly renewed tender for the construction of the Cardiff Opera House three times, but in the end none of her plans were realised. It was not until 1993 that a design by Hadid was actually put into practice, namely the fire station on the premises of the Vitra company in Weil am Rhein.

Among the most important projects she has realized over the years are the Bridge Pavilion in Zaragoza, Spain, the National Museum of 21st Century Arts (MAXXI) in Rome, the Opera House in Guangzhou, China, and the ski jump on the Bergisel in Innsbruck, Austria. She was also commissioned to design the London Aquatics Centre, where the swimming competitions for the 2012 Olympic Games were held.

Zaha Hadid, a versatile woman

In addition to her work as an architect, Hadid was a lecturer for many years. She has taught at Harvard University, Columbia University in New York and the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg, among others. Between 2000 and 2015 she was professor at the Vienna University of Applied Arts. She was also very interested in designing everyday objects. For example, she designed furniture, wallpaper and shoes.

Hadid was attracted to industrial design because it produces faster results than architecture. However, she had too little time for it, as her architectural practice worked on more than 900 projects around the world at times. Interestingly, Hadid designed a stage set for the Pet Shop Boys’ world tour in 1999/2000. She died of a heart attack on March 31, 2016, while she was in a hospital in Miami for treatment of bronchitis.

Quotes from Zaha Hadid

There are 360 degrees, so why stick to one?

- Zaha Hadid

Architecture is like writing. You have to edit it over and over so it looks effortless.

- Zaha Hadid

A brilliant design will always benefit from the input of others.

- Zaha Hadid

I don't use the computer. I do sketches, very quickly, often more than 100 on the same formal research.

- Zaha Hadid

Architecture is how the person places herself in the space. Fashion is about how you place the object on the person.

- Zaha Hadid

Know what it is that you are trying to find out.

- Zaha Hadid

I really believe in the idea of the future.

- Zaha Hadid

Different projects give you satisfaction in different ways.

- Zaha Hadid

People say I design architectural icons. If I design a building and it becomes an icon, that's ok.

- Zaha Hadid

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