We, along with the rest of the world, were shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden death of Zaha Hadid on 30 March 2016. For us, she was a treasured founding Ambassador and inspiration for Creative Entrepreneurs. She was a believer in our vision when it was just an idea, a powerful supporter of our work and a generous friend. For the world, she was a creative genius, an architectural rock star, a pioneer who broke the bounds of imagination. She was at the height of her game and had so much more to dazzle us with. As we mourn her loss, we're heartened that her stunning work and style will live on.
This profile was published at the launch of Creative Entrepreneurs in January 2016.
Never one to bow to received opinion, Zaha Hadid DBE has spent the three decades since she founded her practice Zaha Hadid Architects bringing to life landmark buildings and bold, sometimes controversial structures that place her firmly at the pinnacle of modernist architecture.
Her signature curvilinear designs and fluid spaces, now scattered around the globe as art galleries, stadiums and schools, are regarded as visions of a 'digital' future in which strong angles are softened and traditional divisions broken down. Her mentor Rem Koolhaas calls her ‘a planet in her own inimitable orbit.’
Known for the exuberant swooshes of her buildings, Iraqi-born Zaha’s knack for making the seemingly impossible a reality is also present in the meteoric growth of her practice, which started off in 1980 as a tiny five-person office in a former school building in Clerkenwell.
In keeping with the ambition of its founder’s work, Zaha Hadid Architects now occupies the entire school building and has sprawled into a multi-national firm of 400 people responsible for the creation of 950 buildings spanning over 40 countries from Azerbaijan to Beijing to Italy. While delivering this impressive array of projects, the practice also manages to be at the cutting edge of thinking, influencing the teaching of architecture in schools around the world.
A practitioner with a deep understanding of the importance of design that reflects and magnifies her own trailblazing personality, Zaha learned from early mentors including Koolhaas the importance of anchoring her creativity in a coherent vision which has become one of the world’s most recognisable design brands, capable of branching into fields as diverse as abstract furniture, lighting and jewellery.
The first woman to win the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s most prestigious accolade (2004), and the winner of the Stirling Prize two years running (2010 and 2011), her designs range from Rome’s MAXXI contemporary art museum (2009) to the the Aquatics Centre for the London Olympics (2012) to the extension to the Serpentine Sackler Gallery (2013).
Zaha continues to win respect for her boundless creative energy which ensures every building is imbued with her unique vision of the architecture of the future.
Read more about Zaha
1. Profile: ‘They thought I was a troublemaker’, Dezeen, 18 December 2014
2. Zaha Hadid: queen of the curve, by Rowan Moore, The Guardian, 8 September 2013
3. The Abstractionist, by John Seabrook, The New Yorker, 21 December 2009