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The legendary architect Dame Zaha Hadid

(to read this article in Mandarin, go to Goldrush Extra: 如果您想用普通话读这一点,你可以去这个页面:!设计-传奇建筑师扎哈-哈迪德/cmbz/57c91a8af97b693d957a9fc4

This time, Christina discovers the world of architect Zaha Hadid (who designed, among other things, the Chaoyangmen Galaxy Soho building, below, in Beijing):

The fluid lines of Beijing's Galaxy Soho building are classic Zaha Hadid style.

The legendary architect Dame Zaha Hadid (below) may have taken some time to really hit her stride on a world scale, but once she did, she left an indelible mark on the world of design in general.

Like all Scorpios, however, Hadid was not always everyone’s cup of tea. Pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved in design was at the centre of Hadid’s philosophy and she eventually managed to make this approach not only manifest but chic.

Often praised for being what’s known as a starchitect, that is, a celebrity or star within the realm of architecture, Hadid also attracted her share of detractors. Her flowing designs polarise design fans.

Challenging gravity and our perceptions of reality, Hadid’s work takes lines and dimensions and turns them into liquid (and for her architecture company, make that, financially, “liquid GOLD”). below: The late Zaha Hadid and her gravity defying shoe designs.

Dame Zaha Hadid, legendary architect.
Shoes designed by Zaha Hadid reflect her innovative outlook.

In death, Hadid’s fans are as loyal as ever, viewing her building designs, malls, sports centres, apartments, kitchen plans, furniture, shoes and more with increased reverence and, I think, a greater level of well-earned respect.

Born in Iraq, (on October 31st, ie Halloween, 1950), Hadid later made England her home. Her star started to shine brighter on a world scale after her innovative buildings, such as the Guangzhou Opera House in China and Rome’s Maxxi National Museum of 21st Century Arts, gained her recognition. Being the first woman to be awarded the Pritzker prize for architecture in 2004 was another highlight that set Hadid on a course for continued accolades.

Nailing it (pun intended) in 2010 with her Time magazine listing as one of 100 key influencers of the year, took things just that step further toward become a household (yes another architecture pun) name.

Like every great artist, however, the road to success was not always smooth.

Hadid was harshly criticised by the media back in 1994 for an opera house design she created for the city of Cardiff. It was meant to be reminiscent of a necklace of crystal glass. After the gossip rags branded it an overly posh concept, the design was abandoned by the key decision-makers. Hadid picked up the unfortunate reputation of being an architect with ideas that were just too (as my mother would say) “far-out” to implement. Hadid’s admirers always intuited however that Hadid was ahead of her time. Still, it took the more conservative fans in the UK a bit longer to go ahead and take on her designs compared with the rest of the world.

Hadid, having practised as an architect in England for twenty years, only had the chance to build one of her designs on British soil in 2006 (with Maggie’s Centre in Fife).

Then, the Aquatics Centre she created for the 2012 London Olympics seemed to shut down her British detractors (even if her critics still shake their heads at the fact that the aquatic centre ended up costing TRIPLE the amount which Hadid had initially quoted contractors.)


Still, in life, you get what you pay for, (which my mother ALSO says) so, the quality is, as ever, is what interests me.

below: Hadid’s Opera House in Guangzhou, China.

Opera House in Guangzhou, China, designed by Zaha Hadid.

“There are 360 degrees, so why stick to one?" Zaha Hadid

It’s the focus on quality that saw Hadid recipient of the Stirling Prize in 2010 and 2011. She was then awarded the title of Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2015 for her breakthroughs as a pioneer in parametricism and as an expert in neo-futurism.

Next up, Hadid was also the first woman to be awarded the RIBA Gold Medal, in 2015.

Hadid passed away in March 2016 but whether you love her work or love to hate it, one thing’s for certain and that’s that you’ll continue to see more of it, as Hadid’s legacy lives on as her eponymous architecture firm continues to serve up (what I think) is just a little bit of magic.

above: A candid shot of Dame Zaha Hadid; below: Hadid’s Soho building in Beijing, China.

In the evenings, Hadid's Galaxy Soho builing becomes a running track, a meeting place and a safe space for people to relax, with stunning lighting and her signature flowing lines as the backdrop.

In the evening, it resembles the NYC YMCA jogging track or the Haaj. I sometimes wonder if Zaha could ever have imagined how much joy her spaces would give entire communities around the world.

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