Dame Zaha Hadid was an architect known for her high-concept neo-futurist designs that gave her the label 'queen of the curve'. Born in Baghdad in 1950, she became the first woman in her own right to receive the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004, and the RIBA Gold Medal in 2015.
Initially studying mathematics in Beirut, Hadid moved to London in the early 1970s to attend the Architectural Assoication, where she later taught alongside the likes of Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis. London was to become the base for Zaha Hadid Architects which she founded in 1980. Throughout the 1980s she taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a number of other international universities. During this period she began to be recognised for her innovative use of shapes, skewed perspectives and unusual geometric forms, notably in competition proposals for The Peak terminus in Hong Kong and the Cardiff Bay opera house that was later controversially cancelled.
It wasn't until 1993 that one of her designs was actually realised – the Vitra Fire Station in Germany, however, for all its ambition, it was criticised for its practical unsuitability by the firemen who occupied it. Towards the end of the 1990s, she designed the Mind Zone for the Millennium Dome and the first of the now-annual Serpentine Gallery Pavilion temporary structures.
Developing a reputation for seeking to push the boundaries of architecture and urban design, she experimented with the structural potential of concrete in the form of dramatic curves and angles on projects such as the Bergisel Ski Jump in Innsbruck (2002), and the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati (2003). She also became involved in interior and product design, developing the Moon System Sofa for furniture manufacturer B&B Italia, and working with clothing brand Lacoste.
Perhaps her most famous building work is the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center in Azerbaijan, with its sculptural skin bulging in smooth white waves. In 2010 and 2011 she won the Stirling Prize for the MAXXI museum in Rome and the Evelyn Grace Academy in London.
Despite many accolades, Hadid was no stranger to controversy, and often faced criticism for extravagant projects that spiraled over budget or were sponsored by states with questionable human rights records. Her design for the London Olympics Aquatic Centre suffered cost overruns, and her scheme for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Stadium was cancelled due to escalating costs and local objections.
Most notable buildings:
- Vitra Fire Station, Germany
- Bergisel Ski Jump, Innsbruck
- BMW Central Building, Germany
- MAXXI museum, Rome
- Guangzhou Opera House, China
- London Aquatics Centre, London
- Riverside Museum, Glasgow
- Evelyn Grace Academy, London
- Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre, Azerbaijan
- Messner Mountain Museum, Italy
- World Cup Stadium, Qatar
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- 600 Collins Street, Melbourne.
- Antoni Gaudi.
- Buckminster Fuller.
- Concept architectural design.
- D'Leedon, Singapore.
- Erno Goldfinger.
- Frank Gehry.
- Frei Otto.
- Masaryk Railway Station regeneration.
- Norman Foster.
- Port House, Antwerp.
- Richard Rogers.
- Salerno Maritime Terminal.
- Ted Happold.
- The architectural profession.
- The Architecture of Neoliberalism.
- UHAC, Saudi Arabia.
- Unusual building design of the week.
 External references
- Zaha Hadid - Official site
Featured articles and news
IHBC book review: Charles Barry’s monumental struggle to rebuild the Houses of Parliament.
Read about RSHP's British Museum extension which has been shortlisted for the 2017 Stirling Prize.
Read our introductory article to building a house extension.
More updates from DCMS about the large-scale testing of cladding systems and the number of buildings affected.
UandI secure resolution to grant planning consent for major new regeneration project.
IHBC article considers how heritage is dealt with when infrastructure schemes are authorised.
It was the tallest structure in the world for 3,800 years, but to this day the exact construction techniques are a mystery.
Shortlist for the industry's most coveted award announced.
Government responds to Mark Farmer's review of industry, rejecting the call for a levy on clients.
Peter Hansford to examine what wider lessons can be learned from the fire.
Every project is subject to uncertainty. How can construction better understand uncertainty for performance improvement?
MAD Architects reveal their designs for a futuristic campus for electric car manufacturer.
Homebuyers could borrow more with better forecasting of energy bills, according to industry consortium's new report.