Without question, Zaha Hadid’s structures have taught us a great deal and have left a wonderful legacy. The architectural landscape is all the richer for having her eye-catching structures grace cityscapes across the globe, and her furniture, lighting, jewellery and shoes can be found in homes the world over.
Zaha Hadid is undoubtedly the most famous female architect of the modern age. She rose to such global prominence off the back of her boundary-pushing, ceiling-smashing work – work which famously brought her the 2015 RIBA Gold Medal, the 2014 Design Museum Design of the Year Award, the 2010 and 2011 Stirling Prize and the 2004 Pritzker Architectural Prize.
In the following, we’ll briefly discuss the life and work of this great woman, and then we’ll touch on some of the more poignant pearls of wisdom handed down to us by Zaha Hadid.
It was Zaha Hadid’s futuristic designs which brought her the most attention, with their sharp angles, curving facades and use of concrete and steel, features which have become synonymous with her trademark touch.
Her boundary-pushing, signature design can be seen most clearly in these architectural masterpieces:
Whilst the accolades poured in Hadid did much more than just push the boundaries in the field of architecture; she made great strides and ploughed a substantial, talent-fuelled furrow for women in architecture of which there have been beneficiaries not just in Britain, but the world over.
Hadid did face challenges early on when attempting to deliver such multifaceted, innovate designs: “My work is not within the accepted box. Maybe because I am a woman. Also an Arab. There was a certain prejudice about these things.” She wasn’t deterred of course; perseverance and a thick skin are pre-requisites for any architect.
But if she was a role model, a mentor or trailblazer to many, her reaction to this would be one of simple humility grounded in a belief system about what works in architecture. When commenting on her role as a Master at the Institute of Architecture in Vienna, she famously said: “I don’t think you can teach architecture. You can only inspire people”.
In fact, when you look back at her life – if we are looking at what we can learn – we can draw as much from the way she worked and acted as we can from Zaha Hadid’s buildings. Her honesty, transparency, authenticity and drive were (and remain) unmatched. It’s difficult to sum up Hadid’s outlook in any one sentence, so perhaps we should let her speak for herself. Here are some quotes that range from witty and smart to serious and inspiring.
“Diplomacy! Not my best talent! I don’t play up to people. I remember Rem Koolhaas when they asked me to join OMA, and I said, ‘Only as a partner.’ I mean, honestly! I had just finished school. And they said, ‘As long as you are an obedient partner.’ I said, ‘No I’m not going to be an obedient partner.’ That was the end of my partnership!”
“Alternatives were historicism, post-modernism, and neo-rationalism. I thought there must be another alternative, and so I started to complete the modernist project, not knowing that in this endeavour I would discover other things.”
“We used to start working with a sketch, a model, a painting or a model cross-section. With digital and visual technology, the skill base has changed.”
“I know what is going to become expensive and what is cheap. I think it is very important that a project is affordable.”
“Cities should invest in good spatial organization that has more impact than just making a terrible cheap building, which you see a lot of.”
“I’ll be honest, it’s very difficult explaining things to men. It’s virtually impossible. The older generation in my office think they know everything better than anyone. The younger generation are much more flexible and adaptable.”
“I don’t have any frustrations. If you want an easy life, don’t be an architect. Ask anybody in my office. You have to work all the time. If you want a nine-to-five job and to go home and relax, just don’t do it.”
Brutally honest, true to herself and her beliefs and with a determinism and work ethic to match her undeniably huge talent, Zaha Hadid taught us much more than how to design buildings; she taught us how to work in them, to succeed in them and how to inspire the others within them.
At Urbanist Architecture, we are deeply inspired by Zaha Hadid’s buildings. We attempt to emulate her boldness and courage when developing designs for our clients, while of course taking pains to consider the nitty-gritty practical elements. If you’re looking to join us in our journey to design beautiful homes that provide a high rate of return, contact us today. We can’t wait to work with you.