Architectural design is often an overlooked mode of communication—it is nearly invisible in everyday laymen’s conversations, yet surrounds us as we walk about our world, whether were in New York City or in Los Angeles, we are beholden to works of art ranging from the mass-produced commercial to the private commissions. Architecture not only is for living in: it influences other industries of art, all the way to fashion itself. Zaha Hadid is one particular artist who continues to astound people over and over— regardless of their background—with her architectural work. She is one of the few Iraqi-British architects out there who has reached critical acclaim, and she is the first woman who won the Pritzker Architecture Prize. In addition to her Pritzker, she has won numerous other awards, like the RIBA Gold Medal. Having won so many praises and critical claims, Hadid has enamored many to her design aesthetic which is heavily influenced by “the constructionist philosophers Deleuze and Guattari, whose analysis of the way new concepts are created has become a classic” (Clegg, 2010, 68). Furthermore, “Hadid’s originality is ascribed to her starting as an artist-architect. Her spectacular designs could not be actualised for the first 20 years of her career, but became buildable as computers developed. Changing 3-D technology made it possible to harness complexity, allowing her to see how one adjustment would affect every aspect of the building and materials required” (Clegg, 2010, 68). When viewing her structures there is clearly a neo-futuristic vibe that comes off of them, as technology has given her a means to say what she wants to.
Another area of her influence is that Hadid “draws on a diverse palette of influences including Soviet Constructivism, Suprematism, and what her colleague Patrick Shumacher has termed ‘Parametricism’” (Aref, 2011, 267). Simply looking at pictures allows us to examine her masterful ways of sculpting what appears to be living pieces of art in the middle of cities. In figure 1, Hadid has created a swerving carve of metal for the Astana EXPO 2017 Future Energy Comments (Zaha Hadid Architects). She has spectacular control over her form, and a notable sense of negative space. Where other artists might have left gaping holes in the middle of the building, she has allowed for nature to combine aesthetically with the structure itself. Anyone can notice how she also uses the land to her advantage: without needing to oversize her this building, she has capably demonstrated a sense of dramatic perspective no matter where one stands. The structure stands tall above the viewer, and seemingly commands the location with its height and twisted cone shape.
In figure 2, Hadid uses structures to create natural illusions. Here, she’s mimicking water, and the framework of nature itself. There are trees on the bottom, and roads that cut through the land, giving a sense of a riverbank (Zaha Hadid Architects). By doing so, Hadid has also created a political statement through her artwork: she states her desire for there to be congruency between man-made items, and nature itself. She wants humanity to cooperate with the surrounding areas occupied by architecture and other features of our species like roads or residential houses. She gives a clear sense in her work of what she stands for, illustrating a cohesiveness with the environment. Considering that she has shown at the Astana EXPO 2017, and that her most recent work also shows much natural inspiration, it would follow that her political message is one of peace and green pasture. In addition to these natural shapes, Hadid has a very intuitive sense for futurism. Because of technology, “experimentation with free-form shapes in contemporary architecture…has made geometry a fertile area of research over the last decade or so” (Pottmann, 2010, 72). One only has to look at both figures 1 and 2 to see how she merges the aesthetics of naturalism and futurism. Her artwork is resonant in beauty and strength, vigor and power. The techniques that she has used in both figures displays a keenness, a likeness in her technique and form. In figure 1, she’s able to cast a distinctive 3-D shape, and again, no matter where the viewer is, one will see it rising out of the land with angularity and geometry. In figure 2, she’s able to use the same angularity and geometry in accordance with natural swerves and shapes: she creates rippling motions, water and waves, while also making inhabitable living area. Her command and language of form and value are exercises in the way that only a master knows how to dictate.
“Zaha Hadid’s Tram Terminal in France” is another structure that “engage[s] the earth’s surface as a building element in its own right” (Betsky, 2002). Looking at figure 3, any viewer can indeed see that Hadid has an uncanny ability to combine landscape with her artwork. Here, she imitates trees, and uses the lighting of the building itself to network a sense of shadow and brightness, opening large spaces above to allow for natural air and sunlight to filter through. People who walk about will be able to see the trams coming in from a distance, and when combined with the looming overhead flanks, a sense of intimacy is given and also aloneness. Her ability to weave together seemingly disparate zones into a cohesive palette is one that only a Hadid could do. She “gives to designing around ‘nodes’ of activity [and] has an affinity with these ideas” (Clegg, 2010, 68). “Zaha Hadid is an architect who consistently pushes the boundaries of architecture and urban design. Her work experiments with new spatial concepts intensifying existing urban landscapes in the pursuit of a visionary aesthetic that encompasses all fields of design, ranging from urban scale through to products, interiors and furniture” (Zaha Hadid Architects).
It is interesting to note that Zaha Hadid has also influenced fashion. “[As] Hadid describe[s] architecture’s role in the formation of fashion identities, new readings of both areas emerge” (Quinn, 2003, 5). Clearly, her aesthetic is not only limited to architecture, but also has crossed over into other industries. When artists in different areas are taking note, then it becomes very evident that Hadid possesses a skillset intensely unique. She is able to translate her ideas into inspiration for wearable pieces of art—a talent, or rather, a vision that is very rare to come across. She is also part of a new avant-garde movement that “are so different from the repertoire of traditional and modern architecture that one might speak of the emergence of a new paradigm for architecture” (Schumacher, 2004, 5). Her ability to seize the day, so to speak, and tell a story through her artistic medium is absolutely astounding: she “believes that architecture has [a] main affective role in human mood, the quality of human life, and the way of perceiving the world…She claimed that architecture is not only a closed structure that holds the activities it is built for but it also should make its users calm, think…and motivate the spirit…she insists that architecture should be a unique thing…attracting people to experience it” (Abdullah, 2013, 2).
Hadid is ultimate not just an architect: she’s an artist outright. She has managed to convince the world of her vision and movement, and has laid down the foundations for posterity to draw upon. Her abilities in space and construction rival those of the greats throughout history, and she has more than enough talent to carry herself through to the next centuries. Her work will continue to inspire and inspire, as she is noted in various other industries. Hopefully, Hadid will not be forgotten, and her work won’t be in vain.
Figure 1: An example of Hadid’s futuristic style from her work at the 2017 Astana EXPO. Clearly her aesthetic has control over futuristic form, with the way that it swerves up into the sky, and takes to the clouds with proportion. She keeps a gap in the middle between the two legs of the structure to allow for negative space at any angle. Very controlled and elevated.
Figure 2: Hadid knows how to create a sense of water. Notice the blues on the bottom, and then the trees in the road. They combine together to give the sense of a riverbank.
Figure 3: Hadid gives the elements of trees in a forest. She’s combining lighting and a habitual use of landscaping to instruct the viewer on where to look and how to view the artwork she wants to communicate.
1. Clegg, J., and R. Lansdall‐Welfare. “From autonomy to relationships: productive engagement with uncertainty.” Journal of Intellectual Disability Research 54.s1 (2010): 66-72.
2. ‘Aref, Mohammad. “Zaha Hadid, genius of the place*.” Contemporary Arab Affairs 4.3 (2011): 267-287.
3. “Zaha Hadid Architects.” Zaha Hadid Architects Astana EXPO 2017 Future Energy Comments. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.
4. Pottmann, Helmut. “Architectural geometry as design knowledge.” Architectural Design 80.4 (2010): 72-77.
5. Betsky, Aaron. Landscrapers: building with the land. London: Thames & Hudson, 2002.
6. Quinn, Bradley. The fashion of architecture. Oxford: Berg, 2003.
7. Schumacher, Patrik. Digital Hadid. Springer Science & Business Media, 2004: 5.
8. Abdullah, A., I. Said, and D. Ossen. “Zaha Hadid’s techniques of architectural form-making.” Open Journal of Architectural Design 1.1 (2013): 1-9.