‘Zaha Hadid is working with Nikken Sekkei to win back Tokyo 2020 stadium’, ‘ Zaha Hadid forced to give up Tokyo 2020 stadium design battle’, ’ Zaha Hadid and Rem Koolhaas competing for the factory in Manchester’ and now ‘ Zaha Hadid to be awarded royal gold medal by RIBA ’, all within a week’s time!
With this she creates history by becoming the first sole female recipient to bag this honor. Although some women have won this honor before, but it was never a sole one, it was along with their husbands or as partners of the firm.
RIBA President and chair of the selection committee, Jane Duncan, refer to her as “a formidable and globally-influential force in architecture” and described her work as “Highly experimental, rigorous and exacting, her work from buildings to furniture, footwear and cars, is quite rightly revered and desired by brands and people all around the world. I am delighted Zaha will be awarded the Royal Gold Medal in 2016 and can’t wait to see what she and her practice will do next.”
Iraqi-born, she started her architectural journey at the Architectural Association of London. Although she has stayed in London since then, her true source of inspiration for designing still lies in Iraq. The ‘amazing flow’ between the land, water and wildlife that takes along the building and people, is one of the things she still cherishes. In the very own words of Zaha Hadid, “My ambition has always been to create fluid space, because it visually simplifies everything. People do ask, ‘Why are there no straight lines, no 90 degrees in your work?’ This is because life is not made in a grid,” says the Iraq-born British architect. “Natural landscape is not even and regular, but people find it very relaxing. I think that one can do that in architecture as well.”
Zaha worked under her own professor Rem Koolhaas’s at OMA and then became one of the partners. She started her own practice in 1979 in London. It was really hard to get projects initially. Although her ideas attracted a lot of attention, her designs never did. Vitra Fire Station in Weil Am Rhein, Germany (1993) was her first built project and hence a vital stepping stone in her career.
Fumihiko Maki and Arata Isozaki described her winning entry for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium competition, as monstrous and wasteful, that shows no respect to the surroundings and local context. There were many others who criticized her designs in a similar fashion throughout her career. Inspite of all this, she continuously struggled, like she did for this competition.
At last, this award seems well deserved after such a tough battle, as she told BBC’s Arts Editor Will Gompertz: “It’s great, it’s been a tough summer so it’s very refreshing.”
By: Kushal Jain