OSA REWIND: Zaha Hadid, 1950-2016


BA Graduate Sophia Edwards reflects on Zaha Hadid, a true architectural legend

First published in OSA Vol 3, Issue 6: Departure

Zaha Hadid, a female architect who succeeded.

As the gender divide within architecture gets narrower, there is evidence to suggest that female architects are on the rise. Zaha Hadid was not only an exceptional designer and imaginative thinker, but a winner of the Pritzker Architecture prize and an architect very much recognised for her talents, apart from her gender. For female architecture students worldwide, Hadid was a source of inspiration, a role model and a woman who broke down barriers in a very patriarchal environment. As an Iraqi, she was deemed an outsider from the start, learning quite quickly that acceptance within her field would be harder than she thought.

It is the early years of Hadid’s career that I find most refreshing. Having studied at the AA where only a small minority of her class were female, Hadid faced misogynist criticisms regularly, only to become one of the most influential architects today.

Hadid powered through the AA and went on to start up her architecture firm Zaha Hadid Architects,known today to be one of the leading practices in the world, with over 400 employees across 44 countries. Their style of work is like no other, known for its organic influences and imaginative forms, prominent in projects such as the recently constructed Heydar Aliyev Center, which undulates through the Azerbaijani capital city; rising up from the existing landscape. As a practicing architect she continued to face further prejudice regarding her gender and has successfully navigated unjust personal criticism to her personal life as well as her designs.

Her strong personality and drive has lead to her to be recently labelled as a ‘diva’. If a ‘diva’ means a woman that can stand up for herself then I’d happily be labelled with it - although Hadid may have been overly stubborn at times, she created some beautiful pieces of work that never swayed from her individual style. Throughout her entire career, she held her ground, as a woman of talent.

The Queen of Curves, may you rest in peace.

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