Architect Zaha Mohammad Hadid: Queen of the curve

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Zara Mohammad Hadid
Heydar Aliyev Center Baku, Azerbaijan. Designed by Zara Mohammad Hadid.

Architecture, since time immemorial, has largely been the arts and science of men. Let alone the medieval times, a period from which stunning monuments survive across the world, even in the modern era it has been a field dominated by male masters. In this crowd, Zaha Mohammad Hadid is a distinguished exception. Distinguished not only because of making it in the ‘men’s world’, but more importantly for revolutionizing architecture in the late 20th and early 21st century in many senses. Describing Zaha Mohammad Hadid as the ‘queen of the curve’, internationally reputed newspaper The Guardian went on to comment that she ‘liberated architectural geometry, giving it a whole new expressive identity’.

Early years of Zaha Mohammad Hadid

Zara Mohammad Hadid Hadid was born in Baghdad on October 31, 1950. Hadid’s early education began in the West. She studied in schools in England and Switzerland. Next, she moved to Beirut as a student of Mathematics in the American University. Her foray into proper architecture began with her admission to London’s prestigious Architectural Association School of Architecture in 1972. Legendary Greek architecture Elia Zanghelis described Hadid as the most brilliant student he ever taught.

Hadid’s professional career as an architect took flight when she was engaged with Rotterdam’s Office of Metropolitan Architecture. Soon she was launched into a long teaching career, and Hadid became a famous professor, teaching in such prestigious institutions such as Harvard Graduate School of Design, the University of Chicago, Hochschule fur bildende kunste in Hamburg and Columbia university. These teaching assignments ran well into the late 1980s. It gave her fame as a teacher, but her heart remained dissatisfied, because none of her revolutionary designs was built upon. They remained as designs.

Architect of art museum U.S

In 1993 Hadid submitted a revolutionary design for a small fire station of a factory on an invitation from the Swiss firm Vitra. Made of raw concrete and glass, the design was such radical that even after the building stopped functioning as a fire station within a few months, it has remained as an exhibit-space. Hadid’s career as an architect soon soared to unprecedented heights. On her design being chosen for the building of the Contemporary Arts Centre, at Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1997, Hadid became the first woman architect to design an art museum in the US.

Over the next five years Hadid became one of the finest architects of the world. Surprisingly, she did not design a large number of monuments. Yet, the sheer marvel of her designs won her the most prestigious award in architecture, the Nobel Prize of architecture if you will, the Pritzker Architecture Prize, in 2004.

Designer of Olympic venues to posh sofas

By that time only four buildings designed by her had been built. In following years Hadid has left her indelible mark on various kinds of works, including bridges, museums, opera houses and summer Olympics venues in such varying countries as Germany, Italy, China, Britain, the US, Austria, Azerbaijan, South Korea and Belgium.

Hadid also undertook several plush interior works. The Mind Zone inside London’s Millennium Dome is one of the best examples of her interior works. Indeed, she even designed furniture. Her Moon System Sofa designed for the Italian furniture firm B & B Italia is just one example of her exemplary achievement in this arena of the arts as well. “Her buildings elevated uncertainty to an art,” commented The New York Times, on her death on March 31, 2016.


(Written by Author and Translator Nilanjan Hajra)