The Architect Who Will Transform Brisbane: Zaha Hadid


Dame Zaha Hadid is probably the world’s most famous female architect but until today few Australians would have heard of her.

That will now change, with the approval of Sunland Group’s strikingly-styled $430 million residential development Grace on Coronation, at Toowong in inner-western Brisbane.

The development, consisting of three champagne flute-shaped towers, bears all of the hallmarks of the “neo-futuristic” design philosophy which saw Ms Hadid become the first woman and the first Muslim to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004.

ALSO SEE: Zaha Hadid Architects Unveils Plans For Futuristic 'City' in Mexico

Grace on Coronation[/caption]This style is characterised by powerful, curving forms on elongated structures with multiple perspective points and fragmented geometry “to evoke the chaos of modern life”.

In 2006, Ms Hadid was honoured with a retrospective spanning her entire work at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and in 2008, she ranked 69th on the Forbes list of "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women".

Hadid was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2002 and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to architecture.

It has been an improbable rise to the top for Ms Hadid, who was born in 1950 in Baghdad, Iraq.

She grew up in one of Baghdad's first Bauhaus-inspired buildings during an era in which modernism was associated with glamour and progressive thinking in the Middle East.

Ms Hadid went on to study mathematics at the American University of Beirut before moving to study at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, a city she has made her home.

Today, her firm, Zaha Hadid Architects, employs more than 350 people, and is headquartered in a Victorian former school building in Clerkenwell, London.

Hadid’s architectural language has been described as "famously extravagant" with many of her projects sponsored by "dictator states".

She won the prestigious Stirling Prize two years running: in 2010, for one of her most celebrated works, the Maxxi in Rome and in 2011 for the Evelyn Grace Academy, a Z‑shaped school in Brixton, London.

Maxxi Museum in Rome[/caption]  Evelyn Grace Academy, London[/caption]Despite the accolades, Ms Hadid has detractors as well as admirers.

Architecture critic Rowan Moore described Hadid's Heydar Aliyev Center in Azerbaijan as "not so different from the colossal cultural palaces long beloved of Soviet and similar regimes".

Heydar Aliyev Centre, Azerbaijan[/caption]Architect Sean Griffiths characterised Hadid's work as "an empty vessel that sucks in whatever ideology might be in proximity to it".

Hadid’s design for Qatar's Al-Wakrah stadium, for the 2022 football World Cup, has been claimed to resemble female genitalia and dubbed “vagina stadium”, while her plans for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic stadium have been scaled back after complaints it was too big, too expensive, and grossly insensitive to its context.

The Al-Wakrah Stadium, Qatar, featured on the US Daily Show with Jon Stewart.[/caption]One of the country’s most eminent architects, 83-year-old Arata Isozaki, launched a blistering assault against the project, declaring it to be a “monumental mistake” and warning it would be a “disgrace to future generations”.

Tokyo Olympic Stadium[/caption]Despite the criticism, it is all water off a duck’s back for Ms Hadid, who is determined to remain true to her own aesthetic.

Ms Hadid once told The Guardian:"We don't deal with normative ideas and we don't make nice little buildings.”


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