Regarded as one of the world’s most famous architects, Zaha Hadid’s architectural designs were as enigmatic as they were intricate. Drawing inspiration from the environments, both cultural and natural, in which they were erected. Her architectural projects were dynamic- emphasizing asymmetry, fragmented geometry and sensual contours. What Zaha Hadid leaves behind is an impression on architecture that challenges design conventions in a way that merges art and function, along with an identity that is unmistakably hers.
Although securing commissions in the United Kingdom were difficult, Zaha Hadid was the first woman to receive the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal British Institute of Architects (RIBA), based on her buildings commissioned all over the world. Many of her most popular projects hold some cultural significance to the countries in which they reside.
As stated on Zaha Hadid Architects, "the competition-winning design for the Cardiff Bay Opera House achieves simultaneity of two typically exclusive paradigms in modern design: monument and space.” Its asymmetrical outline, sharp angles and sloping profile demand attention. Contrary to its celebration amongst competition judges, politicians and lobbyists regarded the design as “elitist,” and funding was abandoned. Although it was never realized, her winning design would establish her name as an architectural powerhouse.
Despite the Cardiff Bay Opera House’s disappointing fate, a decade later, Zaha Hadid’s design for the Guangzhou Opera House would come to fruition. Drawing inspiration from the environment in which it’s located, Culture Trip describes how the Opera House’s design “manipulates the concepts of erosion, geology and relationship between building and land.” The glass façade helps to reflect the profile of the building as it emanates light from the inside of the building onto the surrounding water.
As part of Azerbaijan’s initiative to evolve from its former Soviet colonialism, Zaha Hadid was chosen to design the Heydar Aliyev Center in the city of Baku. Ornamental and curving forms of traditional Islamic architecture influenced the center’s building profile, juxtaposing the structure within its surroundings of otherwise utilitarian Soviet buildings. Its shell is reminiscent of Eero Saarinen’s TWA terminal, yet more modern and fluid throughout.
Zaha Hadid’s bold personality remains reflective in her architecture, pushing the boundaries of scope and imagination. More importantly, her ability to combine characteristics of the surrounding environment and culture to integrate into building designs further complement her buildings’ cultural significance. Her designs can be interpreted as radical, as well as controversial; but even until her untimely death, she was always true with her own philosophy to which we quote, “There are 360 degrees, so why stick to one?”
Information courtesy of © Culture Trip, Dezeen and Zaha Hadid Architects.