Zaha Hadid – Theory & Research
Written by Lucy Marsh
With her work, recently winning the International Architecture Award 2023 for the BEEAH headquarters design, it felt relevant to write about this remarkable woman. BEEAH headquarters is a building that responds to it’s environment, the “interconnecting ‘dunes’ orientated and shaped to optimize local climatic conditions”. It was designed alongside her team and in collaboration with Atelier Ten and Buro Happold.
Zaha Hadid was one of the world’s best architects and artists. Her concepts and designs were often thought up with traditional methods of pen and paper, although her dive into the latest technologies is partly what grew her company from 25 to 400 employees. She was amongst the first few designers to transition to 3D visualisation for her design process, ‘The Peak’ being one of her first in 1983 with computer graphics.
Here at Rigby and Rigby, we also start with putting pen to paper and have within the last few years, brought in a in-house 3D design team, it’s an industry that’s still developing fast and allows designers to evolve their approach to a project’s design process.
Hadid’s pioneering vision redefined architecture for the 21st century. She challenged the possibility of what materials could achieve such as glass, concrete and steel which resulted in some of the most unique, beautiful pieces of architecture. Being very innovative with her approach got her quickly recognised, “She received the highest honours from civic, academic and professional institutions across the globe.” – ZahaHadid.com
Her first major work that received international recognition and excelled her career was Vitra fire station in Germany – originally a fire house and currently an exhibition and events space for highlighting contemporary architecture.
Hadid’s work frequently has such thought provoking intent, she really considered the process and the journey she was designing for. It is said her work was often inspired by Russian constructivism.
Hadid’s studio was founded in 1979, a mere 7 years after she finished her studies. She was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 2004, the Stirling Prize in 2010 for Maxxi Museum in Rome, and in 2011 for Evelyn Grace academy. She’s also the first female architect to receive RIBA’s royal gold medal.
Zaha Hadid Architects is still a very successful company working across all scales and sectors. They’ve recently won a competition to build Sanya’s new harbourside cultural district.
Projects like these challenge the boundaries of material and design.
Hadid and her team led the way for other ambitiously creative designers to design what was once deemed not possible and forced people to think outside the box.
Playing with scale, geometry, function and space flexibility.
When speaking about the Phaeno Science Centre, Zaha Hadid said it was ‘the most ambitious and complete statement of our quest for complex, dynamic and fluid spaces’, then explaining ‘this project combines formal and geometric complexity with structural audacity and material authenticity, a lot of time and energy was concentrated on achieving this result.’
The skill of perfectly balancing stunning aesthetics with practical design solutions seems to be something Hadid managed perfectly. The Guagzhou opera house, 2010, is a personal favourite of mine. The thought and intent behind it is incredible, each building is meant to resemble a bolder, a larger version of ‘two pebbles’ washed up from the river in which the opera house sits in front of. A steel skeleton of complexity is filled in with glass and concrete, despite the enormity of it, the buildings fit beautifully into their surroundings.