Liquid Design

Zaha Hadid


The uncrowned queen of contemporary iconic Architecture

Zaha Hadid was the uncrowned queen of contemporary iconic architecture. Her buildings conceptual in their splendor shout ‘I am Zaha Hadid’. A bona fide avant-garde designer, Hadid was without reservation the world’s most celebrated woman in a profession dominated by her masculine peers.

Much of the subsequent praise so far following the untimely passing of one of the world’s leading architects, has been focused on gender – to me this confuses what was truly meaningful about her career as an architect.
As an emergent female designer, yes her gender has been significant. With very few female role models to look up to in this profession, Zaha’s work has had a profound impact on me as a young woman but more importantly as a designer despite my gender.

Zaha did not want to be defined by her gender. Something I know many women in this industry strive for. Gender parity. Many insisted on assigning gender typecasts to her. Her portrayal in the media was that of an ice queen, exacting, tough – a “diva” This perception can be attributed to the way she chose to live her life, vilified by her choices of being a decisive career woman intensely engrossed in her inimitable vision. Woman are often undervalued for their tenacity and assertiveness in the work place. Zaha didn’t let this get in her way, she showed us that gender prejudice and stereotypes can be removed from the equation and be replaced with the appreciation of sheer talent.

Zaha’s persistence and courage has given me the hope that my own vision & journey to becoming a successful designer have importance. We live in a world where gender equality in Architecture & Design and in any other profession for that matter, is still a slow and staggered race to the finish line. My first experience in the professional world, working with predominantly men in a workplace environment that values, fosters and encourages my ideas has given me the assurance that I am celebrated for my abilities and not characterized by my gender.

The focus on Zaha Hadid’s gender disguises her real achievements – She was part of a mini rebellion against the sweeping 70s ethos in architecture education where students did not really draw or design but talked instead of operational systems, alternative lifestyles and so on. Zaha demanded to draw architecture, she referenced Russian constructivist design to create an entirely new architectural language.
As a result of a breadth of knowledge, architects like to think of themselves as Renaissance artists: courtiers and experimenters disguised as modern professionals. Hadid was more of the Renaissance than some: her more significant handmade works are paintings.
“You don’t always have to show art in what’s called a white box. You can have a kind of complexity within an exhibit which actually respects the art as well”.
Long after the novelty of her gender fades from the public’s mind she will be remembered for the extravagant monumentality of her buildings and the way these buildings were transformed from paper architecture into reality.

Images from Arcspace

Written by Adriana Ingegneri
Interior Designer