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Zaha Hadid

Zaha Hadid has been a persistent radical in the field of architectural experimentation for
the last 20 years. The importance of her contribution to the culture of architecture lies
primarily in a series of momentous expansions - as influential as radical - in the
repertoire of spatial articulation available to architects today. These conquests for the
design resources of the discipline include representational devices, graphic
manipulations, compositional manoeuvres, spatial concepts, typological inventions and
(beyond the supposed remit of the discipline proper) the suggestion of new modes or
patterns of inhabitation. This list of contributions describes a causal chain that
significantly moves from the superficial to the substantial and thus reverses the order of
ends vs. means assumed in normative models of rationality. The project starts as a shot
into the dark, spreading its trajectories, and assuming its target in midcourse. The point
of departure is the assumption of a new medium (multi perspective projection) which
allows for certain graphic operations (multiple, over-determining distortions) which then
are made operative as compositional transformations (fragmentation and deformation)
leading to a new concept of space (magnetic field space, particle space, distorted space)
which suggests a new phenomenology, navigation and inhabitation of space no longer
oriented along prominent figures, axis, edges and clearly bounded realms. Instead the
distribution of densities, directional bias, scalar grains and gradient vectors of
transformation constitute the new ontology defining what it means to be somewhere
It is no accident hat the New in the arts always announces itself in the guise of a revival.
Hadid's career starts with the reinterpretation of Malevitch's tectonics. Her early work has
indeed been (mis-)understood as Neo-constructivism. Also one might recount how Peter
Eisenman takes off from the early Le Corbusier. Revivalist appropriation is the easiest and
most immediate option to articulate dissatisfaction and resistance towards a dominant
practise. But this has nothing to do with repetition. For instance, to pick up the unfinished
project of modernism on the back of post-modernism can not be a simple re-enactment,
even if one initially works with literal citations. For a culture which reflects its own history,
this history can never be circular. Although there have been attempts to write a circular,
discursively the second time can never be the same. Also: what usually follows on from the
second time clearly reveals its irreducible newness.

Abstraction implies the avoidance of familiar, ready-made typologies. Instead of taking for
granted things like houses, rooms, windows, roofs etc. Hadid reconstitutes the functions of
territorialisation, enclosure and interfacing etc. by means of boundaries, fields, planes,
volumes, cuts, ribbons etc. The creative freedom of this approach is due to the
openendedness of the compositional configurations as well as the open-endedness of the
list of abstract entities that enter into the composition. (To maintain the spirit of
abstraction in the final building a defamiliarising, "minimalist" detailing is avoiding that cuts
turn into windows again.)
"Playfulness is the deliberate, temporary relaxation of rules in order to explore the
possibilities of alternative rules. When we are playful we challenge the necessity of
consistency. In effect, we announce - in advance - our rejection of usual objections to
behaviour that does not fit the standard model of intelligence. Playfulness allows
experimentation. At the same time, it acknowledges reason. It accepts that at one point ...
it will be integrated into the structure of intelligence. ... tolerant of the idea that he will
discover the meaning of yesterday's action in the experiences and interpretations of
today."(4) Such reasoning might grant us some breathing space for experimentation not
only on the drawing board, but also - within certain limits - with the building itself. Who is
to judge and deny a priori that a strange building will not attract and engender a strangely
productive occupation.”
- Zaha Hadid
The designs of the architect Zaha Hadid (born 1950) are daring and visionary experiments
with space and with the relationships of buildings to their urban surroundings.

Born in Baghdad, Iraq,


Zaha M. Hadid grew up in
a well-educated Islamic
family oriented toward
Western multiculturalism.

In 1972 Hadid moved to London (later becoming a British citizen) and enrolled at the
Architectural Association School of Architecture. She has never married nor had children.

"If [architecture] doesn't kill you, then you're no good," she explained. "I mean, really—you
have to go at it full time. You can't afford to dip in and out.”
Hadid opened an office of her own in 1980, but at first her ideas were more in demand
than her actual designs.

After several small projects, including one


for the interior of the Moonsoon
Restaurant in Sapporo, Japan, Hadid's first
major building was constructed in 1993
and 1994: it was a small fire station, with
numerous irregular angles.
Riverside Museum,
new development for the Glasgow Museum of Transport