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Iraqi Zaha Hadid… World’s most famous female architect

During her glorious career, the Iraqi architect, Zaha Hadid, completed about 950 projects in 44 countries around the world.

She sat on the throne of architecture for decades, until 2004 when she was awarded the highest-ever international Pritzker Prize in the field of architecture.

This award is considered the “Nobel of Architecture” as it is awarded to the engineer with the highest contribution to “raising the standard of human life through the arts of architecture.”.

Hadid was not only the first Arab woman to receive this award, but also the first woman in the award’s history, which began 41 years ago.

In her second home, UK, in 2012 Queen Elizabeth II bestowed upon her the title “Dame —“Equivalent to the title “Sir” or knight)—, two years after she won UK’s highest architectural award, “Sterling”. This was one of more than 100 awards bestowed upon her in recognition of her creativity and the new horizons she has struck in her field.

 Since the year 2000, Zaha has been receiving an award at least every year, and it happened that she won 12 awards in one year, and this is an amount of honor that no other architect in the world has achieved, whether man or woman.

Prominent Achievements

Zaha’s architectural achievements include famous landmarks in Germany such as the BMW Administrative Building, Vitra Fire Station, and the Pheno Science Center. It also has a snowboarding platform in Innsbruck, Austria, the Guangzhou Opera House, and Galaxy Soho Complex in China, the Riverside Museum in Glasgow, Scotland, the National Museum of Twenty-first Century Art (MAXI) in Rome, the Eli and Edith Museum of Art at the University of Michigan, and the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati, United States, Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi and Bee’ah’s headquarters in Sharjah.

Zaha’s works in her later years included the London Aquatics Stadium (2012 Olympics), Heydar Aliyev Center in Azerbaijan, Dangdemon Plaza in Seoul, South Korea, Vienna University Library, the Renovation Wing of the University of Hong Kong, and the Ports Administration Building in Antwerp, Belgium.

She also designed some other huge architectural projects that work began on, but death did not allow her to see them completed. These include the Salerno Naval Station in Italy, the Scorpion Tower in Miami, the 666 skyscrapers in Manhattan, Daxing International Airport in China, and the Skypark residential complex in Bratislava, Slovenia.

Short Biography

Zaha Muhammad al-Hajj Husayn Hadid al-Lahibi was born in Baghdad on October 31, 1950, to a well-off family. Her father, Muhammad Hadid, was an Iraqi industrialist and a leader of the Iraqi National Democratic Party; he also acted as Minister of Finance between 1958-1960.

Her mother, Wajeha Al Sabunji, was a visual artist from Mosul (City in Iraq) who is credited with instilling the aesthetics of painting in her daughter. She has an older brother, Haitham, who is an economist residing in Lebanon, and a younger brother, Foulath, who died before her in 2012.

Zaha fluctuated in Baghdad schools until the completion of her secondary education.

She obtained a BA in mathematics from the American University of Beirut (AUB) in 1971, then began her major in architecture at the oldest British higher college, the “College of the Architects Association” in London, where she graduated in 1977.

She began her working life after graduating from the Urban Architecture Office in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and then returned as a lecturer at the Architectural Association College in London.

 In 1980, she established her own company in London, “Zaha Hadid Architects Office”, which employed more than 350 engineers, and became the highest-paid architect in the world.

 At the same time, she was a visiting professor at several universities in Europe and the United States, including Harvard, Chicago, Ohio, Columbia, New York, and Yale.

Zaha was not associated with any marriage in her life, which gave her to advance the art of architecture.

She died on this day, March 31, 2016, at the age of 65, in a Miami hospital, after suffering a heart attack and was undergoing treatment for pneumonia. Her fortune at the time of her death ranged from $85 million to $215 million, according to media outlets.

This fortune included real estate holdings, stock investments, and her business in fashion, beauty, perfumes, restaurants, and a soccer team.

Sumerian Start

It is stated that Zaha’s interest in architecture began when she went as a young girl with her family on a trip to visit the Sumerian monuments – the oldest civilization known to mankind – in southern Iraq.

In a press interview, Zaha said: “My father took us to visit the Sumerian cities, and we went with a boat made of reed sheaves. The beauty of the landscape there, of ruins, buildings, sand, water, birds, and people, has been engraved in my memory since that moment,”.

Zaha’s has held many international exhibitions of her artworks, including architectural designs, drawings, and paintings. She started it with a major exhibition at the Architectural Association in London in 1983.

She also held a group of other large exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1978, the Ga Gallery in Tokyo in 1985, the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1988, the Graduate Department of Design at Harvard University in 1994, and the waiting room at the Grand Central Station in New York in 1995.

Her artwork and architectural designs are part of permanent exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Museum of German Architecture in Frankfurt.

Zaha’s architectural designs were radical, meaning they went beyond the ordinary, as they were characterized by the flow and roundness that came from her old conviction that there is no place for the right angle in architecture.

It is mentioned in her biographical records that she was influenced by the works of the architect Oscar Niemeyer, especially his sense of space and his treatment of it as an entity in a tangible place.

The work of this architect inspired her and encouraged her to create her style based on fluidity in all forms and the use of spaces between them.

Her works were characterized by deconstructiveness and the appearance of the building as if defying gravity as it consisted of flying roofs and arches, emphasizing the dynamism of the formation.

So her work has been called “Dynamic Abstraction” which sounds like a style drawn from another planet rather than our own.

Zaha Hadid in Media’s Eyes

“Zaha Hadid is the queen of curves who freed architectural lines from their constraints and molds and subsequently gave her a new identity to express herself as they resolved to her” – The UK Guardian newspaper.

“Entering in a building designed by Zaha Hadid is like entering an oyster shell” – The New York Times.

“There is no doubt that her architectural achievement made uncertainty an art in its own right” – The New York Times (in another article about it).

“Zaha Hadid is a planet in its own orbit” Elia Zinglis, professor at the College of Architects, London.


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