Known as the ‘Starchitect’, Dame Zaha Hadid’s designs
immediately lend superstar quality to any building project. Last year, the
Hadid-designed Aquatics Centre was rated by many as perhaps the most beautiful of
all the buildings constructed to host London’s Olympic Games.
She is famous for consistently pushing the boundaries of
modern architecture and urban design. The Iraqi-born architect became the first
woman to win the prestigious Pritzker Prize for Architecture in its 26-year
history in 2004 and has won a string of other accolades since, including the
Stirling prize for two years running and a prestigious architecture prize for
the MAXXI National Museum of 21st Century Arts in Rome. Right now, Hadid’s work
is receiving rave reviews in China, where her Wangjing SOHO office and retail
complex is set to open next year. She is also working on the King Abdullah
Petroleum and Studies and Research Centre in Riyadh.
Hadid, who studied mathematics at the American University of
Beirut before moving to study at the Architectural Association School of
Architecture in London, has designed a number of renowned buildings including
Maggie’s Centre at the Victoria Hospital in Scotland and the Bridge Pavilion in
Spain. In 2010, her London-based architectural firm was commissioned to design
the new building for the Central Bank of Iraq, her first project in her native
country. Hadid is yet to visit the site, but the plans are still in place. In
an interview with the Telegraph newspaper last year, she said: “I have not been
back for more than 30 years. My resistance has nothing to do with the state of
affairs there; it’s to do with my personal, emotional return. It’s a bit
traumatic, going back after so many years and you don’t know anyone.”
More recently, Hadid has also been vocal about the role of
female architects in her adopted home country, claiming that she has faced more
misogynism in London than elsewhere in the Europe. “I have noticed it is easier
for me in European countries than it is here. In the UK it is more difficult.
They are very conservative,”she said.
Hadid was appointed Dame Commander last year, and was named
one of the UK’s most top 100 powerful women by the BBC’s Woman’s Hour radio
show last month.