Groundbreaking Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid dies of heart attack

Published March 31st, 2016 - 04:55 GMT
Zaha Hadid. (AFP/File)
Zaha Hadid. (AFP/File)

The architect who designed the London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympic Games has died of a heart attack aged 65. 

Dame Zaha Hadid, who grew up in Baghdad before moving to London more than four decades ago, died this morning after being admitted to a Miami hospital earlier this week with bronchitis.

Her company, Zaha Hadid Architects, this afternoon paid tribute to the talented designer. It said in a statement: 'It is with great sadness that [our company has] confirmed that Dame Zaha Hadid died suddenly in Miami in the early hours of this morning.

In the UK, she was involved in the design of the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in London and the Riverside Museum in Glasgow.

She displayed her individualism from an early age and is said to have designed her own bedroom when she was nine.

She studied mathematics at the American University of Beirut before moving to the UK in 1972 to train as an architect at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. She set up her own company seven years later.

She was named a dame after designing the Aquatics Centre, which was one of the main venues of the summer Olympics and Paralympics in 2012 and features two 50-metre pools. 

Earlier this year, the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) announced Dame Zaha was the recipient of its prestigious Royal Gold Medal, approved personally by The Queen. 

She was the first woman to be awarded the honour in her own right. When presenting the award Peter Cook praised the 'special' architect, adding: 'For three decades now, she has ventured where few would date. 

'How lucky we are to have her in London. Our heroine.'
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, was one of the first people to pay tribute to the architect.
He tweeted: 'So sad to hear of death of Zaha Hadid, she was an inspiration and her legacy lives on in wonderful buildings in Stratford & around the world.'
Dragons' Den star Kelly Hoppen soon followed suit and wrote: 'Deeply saddened by the news of Zaha Hadid's death. She was an iconic architect who pushed the boundaries to another level xx.'
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey posted a message saying that Dame Zaha 'made a huge contribution to contemporary architecture'.

But her career was not without a little controversy. At the end of last year, Japan revealed their design for their 2020 Olympic stadium having rejected the £1.35billion futuristic blueprint Dame Zaha had put forward. 

She was also forced to hit back against claims her designs for the stadium resemble a woman's private parts, insisting instead that they were inspired by an ancient dhow boat.

The strong-minded architect also stormed out of an interview on the BBC's Today programme in September last year after she was asked about the deaths of migrant workers in Qatar.

At the time, Dame Zaha, who designed one of the World Cup stadiums in the country, said: 'There haven't been problems actually, I have to put you right, there hasn't been a single problem in Qatar. It is absolutely untrue.'

'There's no deaths on our site whatsoever, absolutely not. You should check your information before you say anything.' 

She also revealed in February that she felt she was not part of the establishment. 

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, she said: 'I don't really feel I'm part of the establishment. I'm not outside, I'm on the kind of edge, I'm dangling there. I quite like it.'

'I'm not against the establishment per se. I just do what I do and that's it.'

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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