was born in bagdad, 1950.
she studied maths at the american university of beirut
(1968 - 1971) and then later architecture at the architectural
association school (AA) in london, UK (1972 - 1977).
after graduating she joined OMA (office of metropolitan
architecture) and became a partner in 1977.
she left to start her own practice 'zaha hadid office' in 1980.
hadid has has lectured across europe and america,
she is currently a professor at the university of applied arts
in vienna. in 2004 hadid became the first female recipient
of the ’pritzker architecture prize’. projects include:
vitra fire station (1994) in weil am rhein, germany;
rosenthal center for contemporary art (1998) in cincinnati,
usa; bergisel ski jump (2002) in innsbruck, austria;
BMW building (2005) in leipzig, germany
a winner of many international competitions, but a number
of hadid's winning designs were never built.
hadid has designed furniture and objects for swarovski,
dupont, sawaya & moroni, alessi and established & sons.
along with ineriors for the guggenheim museum in new york,
the vienna kunsthalle, the hayward gallery in london...
her work has been shown in exhibitions worldwide
among the many museums, we cite here the MoMA in new
york, the MoMA in san francisco and the deutsches architektur
museum in frankfurt. in 2006, hadid was honoured with a
retrospective spanning her entire work at the guggenheim
museum in new york.
designboom met zaha hadid in cologne on january 16th, 2007
what is the best moment of the day?
it used to be very late in the evening ...
if I'm in london it can be different than if I‘m somewhere else.
what kind of music do you listen to at the moment?
what books do you have on your bedside table?
none! no books at the moment.
do you read design and architecture magazines?
we have lots of these magazines in the office but we usually
don’t read them.
where do you get news from?
are there any clothes that you avoid wearing?
also I don’t like the masculine style, jeans.
I like issey miyake,... and black dresses.
do you have any pets?
when you were a child, did you want
to become an architect and designer?
yes, since I was eleven years old.
who would you like to design something for?
it would be very interesting to design objects for everyday life,
something where the ideas that are expressed can be
launched into society. with products the form is almost the
finished piece, but with architecture its not.
I've also always been interested in combining architecture
with a social agenda, and I really think you can invest
and be inventive with hospitals and housing.
do you discuss your work with other
designers or architects?
within the office of course.
with other designers... I don't like to talk about myself so much.
one discusses the ideas of friends.
where do you usually work on your projects?
I don’t use the computer.
I do sketches, very quickly, often more than 100 on the
same formal research.
describe your style as a good friend of
yours might describe it
virtuoso of elegance.
personal investigation, research, it's laden with so many
ideas that one cannot extrude a single one, there is no
can I explain this?
two years ago I focused on one apartment to see how
many variations you can come up with in a given space
with the same parameters. I would work on this repeatedly
for days and you see that there is maybe seven hundred
options for one space. this exercise gives you an idea of
the degree at which you can interoperate the organization
of space, its not infinite but it's very large.
imagine if you multiply that to the scale of a bigger space,
and the to the scale of a city.
its like a pianist constantly practicing - it's the same level
of intensity. it increases the repertoires immensely
- its unpredictable. some people really live and work within
the same doctrine, the same diagram with the same logic.
we produce many diagrams to start with and that's why
we have a large repertoire.
which of your projects has given you the
‘the peak project’, because that was a very important departure
for me. there are many, every time you make a discovery...
I cant really say because different projects give you
satisfaction in different ways.
the BMW centre in leipzig and the phaeno science center in
wolfsburg, they were very exciting.
I just went to see the contemporary arts centre in rome
which translates many ideas that I have been wanting to do.
can you describe an evolution in your work?
there are some very similar moments in the early work where
the focus was on drawing, abstraction and fragmentation.
then it moved to the development of ideas.
lately it has become what architecture should be,
which is more fluid organization.
there has not been so much ‘a change’ but ‘a development’
over the years.
what was the basic concept behind your installation
‘ideal house’ at this year’s imm cologne fair?
it is a reaction to an object in the middle of a building.
we felt that it had to be transparent and open the idea
was about carving away space a sort of erosion.
its like taking a volume and eroding it. it's related to
a piece called 'z-scape' where the starting point is a block.
there was a big discussion in the office some years back
where we talked about carving, the act of carving away space.
it allows light to come in. this lead to thoughts on exploring
geology, archeology and topography. larger pieces are informed
by landscapes, and the erosion of them. with this house the idea
was that one can move from the chair to the bed to the sofa,
as if they were one continuous piece. its a concept of living,
as it is on two floors you can move up and down, look back
on where you have come from.
this piece is not in isolation of the other work, forms always
come out of what we are looking at, at that time.
sometimes there is a departure, but it is usually a product of
what we a researching at the time, what's taking place at
do you prefer open living spaces?
I think that when technology moves on maybe walls will
move, the kitchen will move. eventually you might not even
have to have a fixed place for a bathroom.
some people like to live in a house where there are three
or four rooms, all the same size, because they like to live
in a confined space.
other people might like to have an open plan house
where there is no rigidity, built walls,...
it was in the seventies in new york when people went
and took these really big raw spaces and lived throughout
the room, now there is more separation.
no-one has really invented the perfect open house ... yet.
different societies use things in different ways some like
sleeping on a futon and in others it could be that the beds
are very high. it depends on the scale of the house,
the light, where the house is - if it is by the sea or in the
mountains. I think that people should be able to interpret
certain things and elaborate an architecture of space
that suits them. a platform where everything can be moved
is there a designer or architect from the past that has
influenced you or that you particularly appreciate the
yes, there are a lot.
erich mendelsohn, mies van der rohe, le corbusier,
and contemporary designers and architects?
many. but too many are too obsessed by method.
it becomes a dogma.
you are working in a man's world...
like many women today, I am travelling a lot
and I work crazy hours. working on an architecture project
means perseverance. but no matter how much progress has
been made, there is still a world that for women is taboo.
do you have any advice for the young?
you have to be very focused and work very hard,
but it is not about working hard without knowing what
your aim is!
you really have to have a goal.
the goal posts might shift, but you should have a goal.
know what it is that you are trying to find out.
is there anything that you are afraid of
regarding the future?
yes, the conservative values that are emerging,
it may not effect architecture immediately but it will
effect society and that's what worries me.
the world is looking more and more segmented,
the difference between people is becoming greater.
one has to strive for a very open liberal society.
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