Zaha Hadid by Alexandra El Khoury

Zaha Hadid was born in Baghdad in 1950. She studied math at the American University of Beirut and continued on to complete her studies in Architecture at the Architectural Association School in London. She is now an architectural designer whose versatility ranges from products, to interiors, to architecture, and urban planning.

Her work has been very influenced by Russian Constructivism and Kazimir Malevich. While designing she tries to think about the relationship between the part and whole and seeing her work as fitting into the greater whole.

Zaha Hadid has an office in London but says that she works anywhere, that she is not tied down to a desk to realize her ideas. She does not use the computer while brainstorming and instead does series of many sketches to begin with as part of a projects research process. Her sketches have a calligraphic style to them allowing her lines more freedom of movement. Even for presenting developed ideas, Zaha prefers to represent her works in painting. She uses her paintings to demonstrate forces, patterns, and rhythms existing in the site and intertwining them with her work.

While developing her ideas she likes to explore all of the potential design options for a space. If it is an apartment, for example, she says she will spend days and go through hundreds of sketches to understand the range of the space trying to explore every possibility. She says that this helps her to define the way the space will later be organized. She studied math in school and mathematical elements such as fractals play a large part in her work. Zaha sees the organization of an apartment as a code that when enlarged equals the code for a building, which equals the code for a city on a larger scale and so on.

Zaha is very interested in thinking about a space in terms of carving and erosion. She prefers is cast and mould models instead of the piece by piece construction technique. She thinks in terms of sculpting and carving out space in an attempt to achieve fluidity and movement. This technique also allows for greater light to enter a space. While designing, she is also concerned with a reactionary type of effect; how one object or building in the middle of a space or landscape can morph the space around it and so on outwards. This way of thought is the reason for the strength of fluidity and motion in her projects.

She prefers to use concrete in innovative ways for her building projects and often works in fiberglass or plastic for furniture and interiors. She is very interested in re-defining the codes of use set for furniture and space in our society. As a result, when she is designing she strives to create works that are multifunctional; that fit into our current society but have potential to be used in new ways.

Zaha has described the evolution of her work and design process to have begun with a focus on drawing, abstraction and fragmentation. This later turned into larger emphasis on the development of new ideas which brought her to a place where she is mostly concerned about fluidity and organization in her designs.

Department of Architecture

Departmental Papers (Architecture)

University of Pennsylvania Year 2006

The Modernity of Zaha Hadid

University of Pennsylvania,

Zaha Hadid: Reading Her Biography Through Her Metaphors In Design
, September 20, 2006; Zaha Hadid: Reading Her Biography Through Her Metaphors in Design by Christine Wonoseputro;

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