The only woman to have ever been honored by the “Royal Institute of British Architects” with the “Royal Gold Medal”; the British-Iraqi Architect was born in 1950 in Baghdad, Iraq.
Zaha Hadid studied Mathematics in the American University in Beirut before going to London to study in the Architectural Association School of Architecture, where she graduated in 1977. She started her architectural career in the Office for Metropolitan Architecture before establishing her own practice in 1980; Zaha Hadid Architects.
It wasn’t until the early 1990s that her designs became reality through the establishment of the Vitra Fire Station in Germany. Before that, her designs were published in architectural journals, however, none was ever implemented in reality.
This was the starting point in Zaha’s career that only got better as she went on. She was known for her imaginative designs and straying away from geometrical rules through the sweeping fluid forms that distinguished her designs.
Germany, Spain, United Arab Emirates, Azerbaijan, and China were some of the countries that witnessed Zaha’s ingenious and innovative designs first-hand, through her most recognized designs, that include:
Phaeno Science Centre, Germany.
Bridge Pavilion, Spain.
Evelyn Grace Academy, England.
The BMW Central Building, Germany.
Guangzhou Opera House, China.
Sheikh Zayed Bridge, UAE.
Riverside Museum, England.
London Aquatics Centre, England.
Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center, Azerbaijan.
All these designs and more reflected Zaha’s appreciation of “those who dare to experiment with materials and proportions” as mentioned by her once before.
Her always daring, never simple nor traditional designs garnered her multiple awards, some of which she was the first woman to ever receive them, such as: the Pritzker Prize of Architecture in 2004. Her other awards include: the Jane Drew Prize in 2012, and the Stirling Prize, the UK's most prestigious award for architecture, for two consecutive years: 2010 and 2011.
In 2013, she was assessed as one of the “100 Most Powerful Women in the UK” by Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4. She appeared on Debrett's list of the “Most Influential People in the UK” for three consecutive years: 2014, 2015, 2016, and was nominated for the “Services to Science and Engineering Award” at the British Muslim Awards in January 2015.
Zaha Hadid, the woman who went against all odds, introducing the world to a whole new generation of designs and buildings, passed away in Miami, Florida, in 2016.
Written by Yamsine Mokhtar