Adamant to not be judged by anything other than her caliber, this Iraqi-born British architect took the world by storm with her radical deconstructivist designs. Her work was not only remarkable enough to fetch her some of the most prestigious awards of architecture and business community but created a whole new niche of futuristic architecture that was too complex to envision and too compelling to pass over. 

Zaha Hadid, the name that is a global brand today, is not a story of chance or fate but a product of many long years of immense hard work, continual motivation, and undeterred vision. Like any behind-the-scenes reel, each of her projects that enters the list of wonders demands the support of a breathtaking idea and an incredible team. 

Even when the legend herself has bid adieu to the world leaving behind an unmatchable legacy, her studio continues to uphold the sanctity of her name, and Today we sneak a peek into the architectural studio of this inspirational architect whose vision took her from a talented nobody to becoming the Dame Commander of the Order of  British Empire. 

How It Formed?

Every success story has a lingering tale of struggle, so had Zaha. Surviving in a male-dominated industry, Zaha had other challenges. Her vision of buildings was too futuristic to be readily accepted and too unique to follow any convention. She tried earning recognition for herself through participation in various competitions. It was her entry, The Peak, that gained her international recognition. 

Her first major built projects were the Vitra Fire Station, Germany, and Centre of Contemporary Art, Ohio. It solidified her reputation as an architect making the world realize the construction possibility of her designs. A stroke of fate perhaps was in her meeting Patrik Schumacher, who presently is the company director and senior designer at Zaha Hadid Architects. In 2010, they designed the MAXXI Museum in Rome, which won the prestigious RIBA Stirling Prize. 

What inspires in her story is not the end of fame, but the constant struggle and dedication she put in to reach the fame where Zaha Hadid is a global brand that has grown from a team of 4 to more than 400 today. Indeed, legends are not born every day!

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Vitra Fire Station Source:Designboom.(2013). zaha hadid celebrates 20 year anniversary of vitra fire station.[Online].Available at: https://www.designboom.com/architecture/zaha-hadid-celebrates-20-year-anniversary-of-vitra-fire-station/
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Center Of Contemporary Arts in Ohio Source:Halbe.R(2016). AD Classics: Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art / Zaha Hadid Architects.[Online].Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/786968/ad-classics-rosenthal-center-for-contemporary-art-zaha-hadid-architects-usa
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Maxi National Museum in Rome Source: Cultural Heritage Online: MAXXI National Museum in Roma.[Online].Available at: https://www.culturalheritageonline.com/location-1350_MAXXI-National-Museum-in-Roma.php

Why So Great?

Let’s unlearn for a moment all the fancy jargonParametricism, Dynamism, Futurism, and morethat stands synonymous with the studio and try to understand what makes them so unique. The studio has a portfolio of over 900 projects built in a spread of about 44 countries marked by a familiar design translation of fluidity and an extremely vocal expression of-’Anything is Possible’.

Designing transformative works in sectors of residential, cultural, and commercial, varying the scale of their work from urban level to that of product and furniture design their primary strength is the uniqueness and flexibility of their core idea that can be carved efficiently and impactfully into any kind of project without losing the signature identity. Their offices that operate at numerous places globally comprise of young,self-driven, and ambitious professionals who are passionate about innovation and technology, inviting and providing freedom and opportunities for new perspectives and growth. 

This tech-savvy office has mastered algorithms of programmatic conventions and has an in-office design research group (CODE)  dedicated to a range of technological explorations, from generating complex shapes and forms to predicting their performance. What made Zaha Hadid outstanding was perhaps her unique visualization and desire to serve incredible architecture globally and this core value remains as the leading vision for the studio, transcending it each day to new heights of accomplishments.

Design & Technology

Their projects often labelled as avant-garde, Zaha Hadid Architects have contributed immensely to a global architectural discourse of digital design and construction. Their proficiency expands to genres of digital modelling, prefabrication, and material innovation. With deep material knowledge and technological support, they have been able to carry out some innovative material transformations like that of Thermo Formed glass whose exceptional use could be seen in Innsbruck Railway Station, Austria

The studio explored CNC milling and thermoforming to sculpt the double curvature glass into a dynamic curvilinear shell structure that creates an artificial landscape, resembling a frozen stream. Another contemporary novelty on their part was seen in the Chanel Mobile Art Pavilion designed by the studio whose modularity and lightweight dress allowed for the structure to travel and be rebuilt over and again in numerous places like Hong Kong, New York, Tokyo until its final stop in Paris. Their projects imbibe an unconventional curvilinearity whose execution commands a special engineering effort. 

What became the biggest challenge for the studio in terms of harnessing a quantifiable, buildable, and perceivable visualization for their clients and engineers stands now as their most unique proposition, through their computational programming and software knowledge. Using technology’s support, they have over time developed a complete ability to execute their fluidic organic forms unhindered by the complexities of site topography or contextual settings. 

Having mastered their art never meant that the learning and explorations of the studio stopped. Executing futuristic designs with a constant awareness of the needs of tomorrow, the studio has centered its design on the cause of sustainability. Away from elementary practices of solar installations as run in many programs, their design incorporates a holistic outlook of orientation, form, and material installations that produces itself as the most energy-efficient module.

The office has been working on some gripping projects. Here is a list of the top three you should go read about now!

1. The Island of Roatan, Caribbean

This residential project is a remarkable mix of vernacular inspirations and digital innovations. The project sees a touch of their signature style, yet it blends so well with the context and cultural setting of the Island. Moreover, besides aesthetics issues of sustainability, waste management, energy efficiency and carbon footprint all have been addressed here in an encouraging manner.

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Residences for island of Roatan Source: Zaha Hadid Architects Creates Residential Project for the Island of Roatán, Honduras in the Caribbean.[Online].Available at: https://igsmag.com/press-releases/zaha/zaha-hadid-architects-creates-residential-project-for-the-island-of-roatan-honduras-in-the-caribbean/

2. Leeza SOHO, Beijing

This high-rise tower anchoring various small and large businesses has an atypically beautiful atrium that waves along with the outer skin of the building like a sculpture. The tower uses an efficient glass curtain wall system that creates a good climatic response inside with air quality and ventilation is taken care of. This 45 story tower also has a subway service tunnel below. Overall, its greatest aspect is seeming to have brought an element of integration and interest through links of its creative atrium.

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Leeza SOHO Tower in Beijing Source:Hufton+Crow. Leeza SOHO Tower by Zaha Hadid Architects.[Online].Available at: https://www.architecturalrecord.com/articles/14408-leeza-soho-tower-by-zaha-hadid-architects

3. Beijing Daxing International Airport, China

One of the most visually stunning projects by the studio, this airport follows the Chinese principle of focusing all towards the center and builds a system of linked terminals that join at the central atrium. The fractals that possess a complex and compelling appearance bring it a unique sense of place. It also has a system of linear skylights that route in natural light to the vast space it encompasses.

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Beijing Daxing International Airport Source: Beijing Daxing International Airport/Public Infrastructure.[Online].Available at: https://worldarchitecture.org/architecture-projects/hfznh/beijing-daxing-international-airport-project-pages.html
Author

Umber, an architecture undergrad at Jamia Millia, chooses to view architecture from the lens of social art, admiring its ability to shape communal lives and respond to its needs. She aspires to travel and pen down cultural richness, capturing the essence of who we are as a global community.

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