While a lot has been written about Zaha Hadid since her passing last week on March 31, her memorial service, where of course many big names in the architecture world attended for a final round of applause at the London Central Mosque in Regent Park last week, passed almost incognito. That’s probably another sign that Zaha Hadid never will really be gone. In the minds of so many aspiring and established architects, as well as non-architects like me, she will always be an inspiration.
Last February, she said on BBC Radio 4, “I’m a woman, which is a problem to many people. I’m a foreigner, another problem. And I do work, which is not normative, which is not what they expect. Together, it becomes difficult.” Of course, we could not be more proud that the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize or the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) gold medal was an Arab woman.
(Virgile Simon Bertrand, Courtesy of the RIBA Architecture & Zaha Hadid Architects)
She was known to have a very strong character, probably a must-have for a genius of her kind. However, Zaha Hadid’s work transcended a specific gender, religion, culture or space. Talking to architects who worked with her, it seems like she was ahead of technology, ahead of her time and defying all rules. Her passing will leave a great gap in the field. But her numerous buildings and constructions around the world will stand as her legacy.
(Christian Richters, Courtesy of the RIBA Architecture & Zaha Hadid Architects)
The Heydar Aliyev cultural centre in Baku, Azerbaijan, the Vitra Fire Station, in Weil am Rhein, Germany, the Sheikh Zayed Bridge, in Abu Dhabi, UAE, the Guangzhou Opera House in China, the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, in Cincinnati U.S., the MAXXI Museum of XXI Art, in Rome, Italy to name a few, but she will also be remembered and cherished for giving us some of the most memorable and inspiring quotes a successful woman could give.
(Iwan Baan, Courtesy of the RIBA Architecture & Zaha Hadid Architects)
“Contrary to popular view, I’ve never been patronized in the Middle East. Men maybe treat women differently, but they do not treat them with disrespect. They don’t hate women. It’s a very different kind of mentality.”
“As a woman in architecture, you’re always an outsider…It’s okay, I like being on the edge.”
“You have to really believe not only in yourself; you have to believe that the world is actually worth your sacrifices.”
“Would they call me a diva if I were a guy?”
“Yes, I’m a feminist, because I see all women as smart, gifted and tough.”
“I really believe in the idea of the future.”
“I’m into fashion because it contains the mood of the day, of the moment – like music, literature, and art.”
“There are 360 degrees, so why stick to one?”
“As a woman, I’m expected to want everything to be nice and to be nice myself. A very English thing. I don’t design nice buildings – I don’t like them. I like architecture to have some raw, vital, earthy quality.”
“When you are overworked and exhausted, there is a sense of kind of delirium and that’s why I think architects do all-nighters and they kind of do those deadlines. For four days I remember doing four nights in one row with no sleep. I mean nobody, unless you are crazy, would do that, but you are totally focused on the project.”
“Architecture is how the person places herself in the space.”
“I am sure that as a woman I can do a very good skyscraper.”
“I miss aspects of being in the Arab world – the language – and there is a tranquility in these cities with great rivers. Whether it’s Cairo or Baghdad, you sit there and you think, ‘This river has flown here for thousands of years.’ There are magical moments in these places.”
“I will never give myself the luxury of thinking, ‘I’ve made it.”
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