By Gwen Brewer

When you think of the greatest architects, a few names spring to mind; Wren, Stirling, Foster, Piano and Zaha Hadid. Apart from being one of the greatest architects; she was an artist, a visionary… an icon.

Her work challenged the architectural norms, which at the time was that a building had to be functional. Her work followed the principles that if the world and nature have curves and grooves, then why should we design buildings as rigid blocks. Her designs invoked curiosity and encouraged interaction. It made us look further and think about the possibilities. It opened our minds. Her talent and passion had the ability to transcend gender, race, religion and political views. She has had some critics but who can deny her authenticity and vision.

Zaha Hadid challenged the norms at every stage. She left home in Iraq when she was young and pursued a career in art in London. She then set-up an architectural practice in the 70s, which at the time was a male dominated profession. She strived to achieve excellence in her profession when she could have easily complied with the social norm of the times of being a married housewife.

Her first design was the Vitra Fire Station in Germany (1994). In 2004, she won the Pritzker Architecture Prize for the contemporary Arts Center in USA. She won the Stirling Prize in 2010 and 2011 for the National Museum of the 21st Century Arts (MAXXI) in Italy and Evelyn Grace Academy in England. She designed the Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Zaha Hadid was commissioned to design buildings all over the world. Some in more controversial countries than others. But she valued the influence that buildings have on people’s lives rather than the politics of the country.

Even in a world with restricted design and construction budgets, she had the ability to design ground-breaking architecture that would meet the clients’ and societies expectations for great spaces.

Zaha Hadid contributed by helping inform, educate and inspire the next generation of architects. She was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 2012 for services to architecture.

We have lost a great architect but she has left behind some amazing architecture and artwork.

The world is a far more interesting place thanks to Dame Zaha Hadid and her legacy.

Main picture: Zaha Hadid Portrait (C) Simone Cecchetti

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