For the longest time I have been in such awe of ZAHA HADID. Her talents, her personality and her drive ar what is so inspirational and motivational to me.
I guess one of the points I love the most, is that she practices her talents in what is a predominantly male field and has had to really push the
boundaries of her craft. As I have always written, I am always interested in the personal history of the talents that I choose to write about, as their life stories
are as much about them as about what created their strengths and visions.
If you are not familiar with her work, you are in for a treat, and if you are, then welcome back.
The opening words of the citation when Zaha Hadid was named as the first woman to win the prestigious Pritzker Prize for architecture in 2004 were: “Her architectural career
has not been traditional or easy.” An understatement. All architects have to struggle, but Hadid seems to have struggled rather more than most. Her single-mindedness, her singular
perhaps, to create forceful architecture like Hadid’s. And in part it is the survival mechanism required to create such architecture in what remains a distinctly macho profession. Diva,
the critics call her, although as the T-shirts worn by Hadid staff replied at the opening of her first major public building, the Cincinnati Art Center, in 2003: “Would they call me a diva if I were a guy?”
Hadid’s forcefulness is both her curse and her blessing. A curse because strong character can make clients run for the hills. Until recently Hadid was more famous not for the buildings she had built,
but for the ones she had not built — preserved only in her famously vigorous, dramatic images. Often, as in the case of the Cardiff Bay Opera House, these opportunities to build were lost quite spectacularly.
In the end, though, her forcefulness is a blessing. Like architectural natural selection, it helps to weed out weak projects and weak clients, so that when architecture is finally built, it is as strong-willed as its creator.
Zaha Hadid was single-minded from an early age. Born in 1950 in Baghdad, she grew up in a very different Iraq from the one we know today. The Iraq of her childhood was a liberal, secular,
western-focused country with a fast-growing economy that flourished until the Ba’ath party took power in 1963, and where her bourgeois intellectual family played a leading role. Hadid’s father was
a politician, economist and industrialist, a co-founder of the Iraqi National Democratic and a leader of the Iraqi Progressive Democratic Parties. Hadid saw no reason why she should not be equally ambitious.
Female role models were plentiful in liberal Iraq, but in architecture, female role models anywhere, let alone in the Middle East, were thin on the ground in the 1950s and 1960s. No matter. After convent school in
Baghdad and Switzerland, and a degree in mathematics at the American University in Beirut, Hadid enrolled at the Architectural Association in London in 1972.
the eyes and the heart to God. Likewise, Hadid shatters both the classically formal, rule bound modernism of Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier and the old rules of space — walls, ceilings, front and back, right angles.
She then reassembles them as what she calls “a new fluid, kind of spatiality” of multiple perspective points and fragmented geometry, designed to embody the chaotic fluidity of modern life.
Hadid’s architecture denies its own solidity. Short of creating actual forms that morph stuff of science fiction – Hadid creates the solid apparatus to make us perceive space as if it morphs and
changes as we pass through. Perhaps wisely, she talks little about theory.