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Demise of the Dame: Zaha Hadid passes away

Posted by
on April 01, 2016 at 01:35 AM

One of the most powerful names in world architecture, and indeed the most path-breaking woman in architecture – Dame Zaha Hadid died early yesterday morning following a heart attack. A statement released by her company said she had “contracted bronchitis earlier this week and suffered a sudden heart attack while being treated in hospital.”

TFOD - The Future Of Design pays a tribute to one of the most iconic architects of the century - Dame Zaha Hadid.

© Courtesy of the internet; Seen in pic: Ar. Zaha Hadid inside the Guangzhou Opera House in China

Zaha Hadid was an Iraqi-born British architect, who may be said to be one of the first 'global brands' in world architecture. Born in Baghad on the 31st of October 1950, Zaha Hadid studied Maths at Beirut University before joining the Architectural Association in London in 1972. In 1979 she set up Zaha Hadid Architects, a studio that rose to fame for its trademark style of distinctively futuristic, avant garde architecture. 

Though a lot of Hadid's earlier ambitious projects never got built, they helped established her presence on the global scene, and won her much respect within the fraternity. Her architecture seemed to challenge all known styles and norms and manifested as outrageous flirtations with form; thus creating the unique Zaha Hadid brand – a heady concoction inspired as much by the Baroque as by the Cubist, as much by the Organic as by the Futurist.  Though better known for the seamlessly fluid, serpentine forms she explored in much of her work across the spectrum of design, Hadid certainly had her angular phases - the common factor binding it all being a heightened sense of drama. The unprecedented, unexplored structural realms she dared to tread - would be her most abiding memories. 

In 2004 Hadid became the first female architect to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the highest honour in world architecture. “Clients, journalists, fellow professionals are mesmerized by her dynamic forms and strategies for achieving a truly distinctive approach to architecture and its settings,” the Pritzker jury commented, when she was awarded the prize. “Each new project is more audacious than the last and the sources of her originality seem endless.”

She twice won the RIBA Stirling Prize, the UK's most prestigious architecture award; in 2010 and 2011. In 2012 she was conferred with the title of a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In 2015 she became the first woman to be awarded the RIBA Gold Medal.

Pic:2-Heydar Aliyev Center in Azerbaijan; Pic:3-Guangzhou Opera House in China; Pic:4- London Aquatics Center; Pic:5-Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati; Pic:6-Maxxi, contemporary art museum in Rome; Pic:7-Vitra Fire Station in Germany

Some of Zaha Hadid's notable completed projects include the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku, Azerbaijan (2013); Guangzhou Opera House in China (2010); the London Aquatics Center (built for the 2012 Olympic Games); the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati (2003); Maxxi, a contemporary art museum in Rome (2009); and the Vitra Fire Station in Weil Am Rhein, Germany (Pic:7 - one of Hadid's earliest built works - 1993). Hadid's first building in the United States was the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art.(Pic: 5) Her design of an apartment block at 520 West 28th Street, bordering the Manhattan High Line scheduled for completion by the end of this year or early next year - was to be Hadid’s first residential project in New York City. 

Hadid often drew flak for her impractical and expensive architectural concepts, which seemed incongruous with the program of the project. Her design for the main facility for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo was scrapped last year, in favour of another, less expensive proposal. 

Pic: 8 - Restaurant Interior; Pic: 9 - One of Hadid's proposed projects; Pic: 10. 'Moon' Sofa for B&B Italia; Pic: 11 - Jewelry for Swarovski; Pic:12 - Shoes for Melissa

However, Hadid’s body of work encompasses much more than architecture and interior design. She was also a celebrated product designer; her portfolio including furniture, jewelry, fashion and bathware – each reflecting her exemplary flair for creating iconic designs. She collaborated with some of the leading brands in the respective fields to give shape to her ideas – such as Swarovski  in jewelry and B&B Italia in furniture, among many.

“All design originates from similar principles. The challenge is to apply formal, technical and material innovations to create exciting and inspirational work.  This applies equally to architecture, and product design. Collaborations in product design inspire our creativity and provide an opportunity to express our ideas in a different scale and through different media.  We see it as part of a continuous process of design investigation. It’s a two way process – we apply our architectural research to these designs, but we also learn a great deal about the process and materials of other industries. The idea for a building, furniture, or a fashion piece can come up just as quickly, but there is a big difference in process of resolving and realizing each design.  Of course, there is a lot of fluidity now between furniture design, architecture and art - a lot more cross-pollination in the disciplines. But this isn’t about competition; it’s about collaboration and how these different practices and processes can contribute to one another,” Hadid is quoted to have said in an interview. 

Indeed, Hadid’s designs elucidated the same thought process – the scales may change, the materials may differ, the processes may vary; but the design ideology remains intrinsically pure and merely adapts to the shifting context. It is for this, more than anything else, that Zaha Hadid will be missed.

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