Zaha Hadid 1950 -2016

Zaha Hadid by Mary McCartney

Friday 1st of April is a sad day. In Australia we woke to the sad news that Dame Zaha Hadid, DBE, had died suddenly in Miami after suffering illness and a heart attack. We are all mourning the loss of an incredible influential and dynamic woman in a field where women are highly underrepresented. Her output was prolific – designing more than 950 projects in more than 44 countries.

Zaha Hadid wearing the Royal Gold Medal, copyright Sophie Mutevelian

Zaha Hadid wearing the Royal Gold Medal, copyright Sophie Mutevelian

In 2016 Hadid was awarded the Royal Gold Medal by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), which made her the first woman awarded this honour and she has twice won the RIBA Stirling Prize – in 2010 for the MAXXI Museum in Rome, a piece of architecture that conveys calm and that belies the complexities of its form, and for the Evelyn Grace Academy which has a unique design and is expertly inserted in to an extremely tight site.

The MAXXI, National Museum of 21st Century Arts, Rome.

MAXXI Museum of XXI Century Art, Rome. Photo by Richard Bryant

MAXXI Museum of XXI Century Art, Rome. Photo by Iwan Baan

MAXXI Museum of XXI Century Art, Rome. Photo by Iwan Baan

In 2004 she received the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize. Today she is regarded the greatest female architect in the world.

Evelyn Grace Academy, London. Photo Luke Hayes

Evelyn Grace Academy, London. Photo Luke Hayes

Her practice garnered a reputation across the world for ground breaking works from the Peak in Hong Kong (1983), the Kurfurstendamm in Berlin (1986) and the Cardiff Bay Opera House in Wales (1994).

Vitra Fire Station, Weil am Rhein, Germany. Photo by Christian Richters

Vitra Fire Station, Weil am Rhein, Germany. Photo by Christian Richters

Her first major built commission was the Vitra Fire Station in Weil Am Rhein, Germany (1993) while other notable projects include MAXXI: Italian National Museum of 21st Century Arts in Rome 92009), the London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympic Games (2011) and the Heyday Aliyev Centre in Baku (2013) ; all illustrating her passion for complex and fluid space.

London Aquatics Centre. Photo Hufton+Crow

London Aquatics Centre. Photo Hufton+Crow

The Rosenthal Centre for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati (2003), and the Guangzhou Opera House in China (2013), have also been hailed as architecture that transforms our ideas of the future with visionary spatial concepts defined by advanced design, material and construction process.

Guangzhou Oprea House, Guangzhou. Photo, Virgile Simon Bertrand

Guangzhou Oprea House, Guangzhou. Photo, Virgile Simon Bertrand

Dare we call her a genius? She grasped the potential of the computer to generate and develop our understanding and interpretation of space. Skilled at mathematics, illustration and painting she was able to twist and turn space to her will creating such wonder as the Heydar Aliyev Centre in Baku. She made the dream-like space possible with its internal ramp and dart like lights like windows to another dimension.

Baku, Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre . Photo by Helen Nicholson

Baku, Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre . Photo by Helen Nicholson

She was prolific in her lifetime, consistent, and self-confident. She has produced a formidable portfolio of work – while it has been attested that she was not the easiest person to work with, one would ask if ever working with the highly talented and visionary ever are. With her detailed attention to every joint and aspect of her projects, we will be assured that her towering masterpieces will be admired for a long time into the future.