Remembering Zaha Hadid

Exactly one year ago, the world bade farewell to 'Queen of the curve' Zaha Hadid. We bring back the British architect's best buildings in remembrance of her greatness.

March 31, 2017

2016 was a big year for the fall of our heroes and gladiators: pioneers of music, film, and art. It was also the year that shocked many of the great architects when Zaha Hadid suddenly passed away. Her work was both specific and prolific: work that was not for everyone as it challenged our perception of what architecture is or could be. From the meandering curves of her the London Aquatic Centre, built for the 2013 London Olympics, to the enormous Soho Galaxy, Hadid’s structures feel as though they have been airlifted from another dimension—from another world. Zaha Hadid was known for both her larger-than-life architecture and her personality, and the legacy she will be remembered for is not only as an architect but also as a visionary and as a woman.

In 2004, Zaha Hadid was the first woman to be awarded the Priztker Prize. This was after a career that spanned decades, beginning at OMA in Rotterdam and later including the foundation of her own practice in 1999. Prior to that, she was a student at the AA in London, where she studied with the greatest artists of our time, such as Rem Koolhaus. When one sees the old drawings and plans from her student days (like the ones that are currently on display at the Zaha Hadid show at Artistree in Hong Kong), one begins to understand that she designed from fantasy and was drawn to a certain aesthetic and form—in particular the Russian Constructivists and the Italian Futurists. It was as though the buildings themselves contained a manifesto for the future: buildings that challenged our perception of space and form. These forms that appeared to be from another world, from science fiction even, where curves reign supreme and structures seem to float in the air, piercing the sky.

Her buildings, like her personality, stood out in a crowd. Her vision was unique. Throughout her career—as early as in the ’80s—it was clear that Zaha was interested in changing our perception of space through architecture. In 2012, she received a knighthood on the Queen’s birthday and became Dame Zaha Hadid for her services to architecture. The award-winning Sackler Gallery in Hyde Park is another example of her vision: how form, space, and imagination can create something altogether memorable.

The list of her buildings and how they changed city landscapes goes on and on; the body of work she created, from architecture to design to interiors and even fashion, is immense. Dame Zaha Hadid challenged our perception of space, and, as a result, also how we function within them and our relationships to them. And let’s face it, she built beautiful buildings: ones that are worthy of visiting, simply to see or even to take selfies in front of. She was the Queen of the Curve: one of the greatest architects of our time.  

Today, in tribute to her memory on the one-year anniversary of her death, we remember those buildings that captured our imagination, that remain in our memories, and, wherever they are in the world, that altered the architectural landscapes and skylines of their surroundings. These buildings are her legacy: the legacy of a great woman and a great visionary.