Iraqi-British Architect Zaha Hadid disappeared 6 months ago, but her work will live much longer and her legacy will continue to inspire the future generations.
The first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize was at the forefront of contemporary world architecture in the late 20th century, creating some of the world’s most iconic buildings and known as the ‘Queen of the Curve’ for her distinctive, fluid, futuristic designs.
From the clouds of Glasgow to the mountains of Italy, here are her most impressive buildings that every lover of architecture should know.
Situated beside the river in Glasgow, The Riverside is one of Hadid’s most beautiful British buildings. The zinc-clad zig-zagging roof echoes the ripples on the nearby water of the river Clyde. Such a dynamic building is suitable for a museum of transport; both internally and externally the building meanders and flows around the space it occupies. Hadid’s unusual approach to the Riverside Museum has made it an icon of the Glasgow skyline.
Hadid created this spectacular, vertigo-inducing museum for renowned climber Reinhold Messner at the top of Alpine peak Mount Kronplatz. The structure, completed last year, features underground galleries and a viewing platform cantilevered over a valley. The architect used cast concrete to give the structure the appearance of rock and ice, reflecting the topography of the region.
In 1981, a fire crippled the Vitra Design Campus, about a decade later Hadid was commissioned for the important role of ensuring that this never happened again and the Vitra Fire Station was built. Completed in 1993, this was Hadid’s first realized project and with this small building she made her mark on the world of architecture. With the soaring planes of deconstructivisim and the interplay of space, void and line, Zaha Hadid has created what will be regarded as a pivotal structure in the career of a great architect.
Hadid was particularly praised for her design of the Guangzhou Opera House in China in 2010 – architectural critic Jonathan Glancey in The Guardian called it “at once highly theatrical and insistently subtle”. The building, described as “cosmic” by CNN, was inspired by the River Pearl, which it overlooks. Hadid has likened it to two rocks washed up from the Pearl River and deposited on its bank.
The bridge, named after the country’s chief architect and former president, was built at a cost of £200m and spans the Maqtah Channel. The 842-metre bridge connects Abu Dhabi Island with the mainland with a curved design that evokes the undulating dunes of the desert, and is said to be best viewed at night, when subtle colored light flows along its spine.
Zaha Hadid is an architect who listens to her environment. With the Riverside, she mimicked the river Clyde and at the Ordrupgard Extension in Copenhagen, she listened to the undulations of the surrounding landscape. The garden is also reflected in the semi-transparent panes of glass which provide both privacy and a connection to nature. During the design, Hadid took great care to reflect the proportions of the original 1918 building and the resulting effect is one of modernity and elegance.
For decades, opera houses have been great representations of contemporary architectural style. From Paris to Sydney each one embodies unique elements of their age; the Guangzhou Opera House is no exception. Like great facets of crystaline rock, the opera house rises from the urban streets. The sharp, angular glass, steel and concrete hide the rippling interior. Like the hard wingcase of a beetle hides a tender body, so the exterior hides a soft inside. The glittering light of the ceiling and the acoustic design, make this site perfect for its purpose as a centre for opera.
The iceberg of architecture, Phaeno Science Centre is stunning and timeless. Few people can turn concrete, steel and glass into a “hypnotic work of architecture,” but Zaha Hadid has certainly accomplished this. The glacial windows and cool white concrete are captivating, but inside, a soaring latticework ceiling and huge concrete columns give the space a monumental feeling shared by the great cathedrals of Europe. Perhaps this can be seen not as a church of religion, but a Cathedral of Science.
Born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1950, Zaha Hadid commenced her college studies at the American University in Beirut, in the field of mathematics. She moved to London in 1972 to study architecture at the Architectural Association and upon graduation in 1977, she joined the Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). She also taught at the Architectural Association (AA) with OMA collaborators Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis.
She began her own practice in London in 1980 and won the prestigious competition for the Hong Kong Peak Club, a leisure and recreational center in 1983. Painting and drawing, especially in her early period, are important techniques of investigation for her design work. Ever since her 1983 retrospective exhibition at the AA in London, her architecture has been shown in exhibitions worldwide and many of her works are held in important museum collections.
Known as an architect who consistently pushes the boundaries of architecture and urban design, her work experiments with new spatial concepts intensifying existing urban landscapes and encompassing all fields of design, from the urban scale to interiors and furniture.
She died on March 31st, Miami.
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