I’ve been so frustrated this week! I don’t remember much more about this classic Joni Mitchell song about putting up a parking lot. I have had the lyrics circling in my head all week, since I learned of the sudden death of the legendary “stararchitect”, Dame Zaha Hadid.
I’ve got all of these feelings, mixed with sadness simply because she left too soon, at only 65and still in her creative prime. Zaha created ground breaking cultural monuments throughout the world – from tram and fire stations to art centres and London’s Olympic Aquatic Centre. Her work was powerful, grand and exciting. Her buildings engaged with the public, creating controversy and admiration in equal measures. She was expectedly, a workaholic diva who drove her staff through fear. Her sacrifices clearly included her health and lack of personal life, but what an incredible legacy and contribution to society.
She overcame boys’ clubs, detractors and other obstacles, making new rules when she felt too oppressed by the architectural zeitgeist in England and beyond. Her work married a passion for fine arts and her studies in mathematics. Zaha developed a sculptural feel to her projects which were initially labelled as too expensive, unbuildable and arrogant. Known as the queen of curves for her incredible scale and swooping shapes, she was insanely talented.
My favourite Hadid quote was “there are 360 degrees, so why stick to one.”
And she used her talents to also design some incredible shoes.
|I love this image of Dame Zaha, she looks fierce|
Her work questioned and pushed the status quo and her projects will continue to roll out over the next several years – including jobs within Australia; in Melbourne and Queensland.She led projects across the world, integrating intricate concepts inspired by nature – such as wheat husks, exoskeletons and spider’s webs on building facades. Her industrial aesthetic was probably best appreciated in Germany where she had many commissions.
Her awards were always considered long overdue and garnered in spite of the fact she was a woman, a Muslim, an Iraqi born in Bagdad – I’m not sure she could tick anymore unconventional boxes if she tried! She chain smoked and guzzled strong coffee and famously worked all night. She was intimidating and frank. She was successful on her own terms, finally being able to choose her own projects but her relentless work ethic continued.
She was the first woman to be awarded the Pritzker Prize. She was twice the recipient of Britain’s RIBA Stirling Prize, the Republic of France’s Commandeur de l’Ordre des Artes et des Lettres and Japan’s Praemium Imperiale. She was also Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
Maybe going out with a bang was the only way this talented individual deserved to go. To not have to suffer from debilitating illness or stroke which may have impacted her vision and frustrated her with limitations? I’m not sure. It is only now when we can look at her life and works as a whole that we can see what a loss her death has brought to the arts and culture of the world.
Much has been said of her inspiration to female architects but I feel that short changes everyone. She was brilliant full stop – not because or in spite of being a woman. She will continue to inspire and challenge the entire industry because she could build what was considered impossible –done beautifully and differently to anyone else. Even her obituaries felt the need to put “female” in the headline!
Vale Dame Zaha Hadid.
Thank you for making the world a more beautiful place
|Her building design was unlike anyone else|
XOXO Byzantine Design
Changing the World one tile at a time.