Architect's Perspective

Zaha Hadid: Famous Buildings and Her Modern Philosophy

Almost every modern and postmodern style of architecture strived for a more minimal and sustainable approach- and rightly so. But the same architects somehow also made it a norm for the building to appear rigid and conventional, which can be somewhat boring.

The one who broke this repetitive mold, without compromising on the building’s sustainability and function, was none other than the genius, Zaha Hadid.

Zaha Hadid

Being a rare woman in an incessantly male-dominated stage, Hadid was celebrated for her unique styles and shapes when it came to designing. While most architects of the era went for a more conventional approach to their buildings, Hadid had a more futuristic idea to her designs, fully utilizing all the magic of modern technologies.

Striking Elements

Zaha Hadid’s designs somehow seem to defy gravity itself. The facades of her buildings appear to change shapes and sizes depending on the viewer’s perspective. Overall, the structures have a certain fluidity and dynamism to them, which looks as if someone had somehow stopped a moving or a falling building midway. 

Londn Aquatics Center showing the curvy facades, sharp angles and dynamic shapes that define Hadid's design style.
London Aquatics Center

Hadid’s designs were mostly distinguished by curvy facades, sharp angles and dynamic shapes. Most of her works employed hard materials like concrete and steel, in contrast to the shape of her buildings which appear soft and curvy.

Zaha Hadid’s Sketches

Some of Zaha Hadid’s designs, like the Kurfürstendamm in Berlin and the Düsseldorf Art and Media Center were never constructed in real life since they were considered too unrealistic to be taken beyond drawings and sketches.

Preliminary study sketch of Kurfürstendamm by Zaha Hadid
Kurfürstendamm sketches

Famous Buildings Designed by Zaha Hadid

1. Heydar Aliyev Center

Heydar Aliyev Center by Zaha Hadid as a symbol to signify  the city’s departure from Soviet Modernism to a more futuristic development.
Heydar Aliyev Center

Overlooking the traditional infrastructures of Baku, Azerbaijan, the Heydar Aliyev cultural center was built as a symbol to signify the city’s departure from Soviet Modernism to a more futuristic development, while also referencing elements of traditional Islamic and Azeri architecture.

  • The structure was famous for its fluid and dynamic shape, in contrast to its rigid and straight surroundings. 
  • Although the building spans eight levels, the functional spaces do not have columns. 
  • The outer skin of the structure is supported by load-bearing structures made of concrete and steel frames.
  • Used as a multi-functional center and a public square, the building hosts interactive exhibitions and workshops covering the art, history, science and education of the region, as well as on the legacy and personal life of the national leader, Heydar Aliyev. 
  • The structure houses a 1000-seat auditorium, exhibition and workshop spaces, conference center and a museum.

Materials and Constructions

  • The prime materials employed during construction were reinforced concrete and steel frames. 
  • They were mostly used as partitions to separate the main building spaces from its supporting spaces. It was also used to construct the footing of the building.

Space Frame

The space frame is one of the unique elements employed in the building. It is a rigid and lightweight structure which is used to span large areas with very few supports. This was employed in order to support the flexible and unconventional structural design. 

2. Havenhuis

Havenhuis, a comtemporary building by zaha hadid that stands as a symbol of the city's flourishing diamond industry
Havenhuis

Located at the second largest shipping port in Europe, this structure acts as the new headquarters for the 12 kilometers long portline, bringing together 500 staff members. On the condition that the old fire station be preserved, a new, contemporary-looking structure was built above it, overlooking the Scheldt river and its port, supported by a large column.

  • The building is diamond-shaped, symbolizing the city’s flourishing diamond industry.
  • The exterior of the diamond structure has triangular and opaque diamond facets, strategically placed to control the amount of light entering the building.
  • There is a bridge level, joining the fire station and the diamond building, which gives the employees a 360 degrees view of the public square and the river below.
  • The building contains a public reading room and a library, apart from the offices and services for the employees.

Materials and Constructions

  • The striking feature of the building is its glass-covered facade which was designed to reflect the beautiful surroundings.
  • Reinforced concrete and steel are again used in this building too.
  • The concrete pillars and 900 tonnes of steel hold the diamond structure above the restored fire station.

Energy Efficiency

  • The building achieved a “very good” BREEAM environmental rating.
  • A borehole energy system pumps water to a depth of 80 meters below grade in over 100 locations to provide heating and cooling for the interiors.  

Although most praised the Iraqi-born British architect for her bold approach to designing, many criticized her, giving the name “the paper architect”, considering her works to be fanatical and too unrealistic to be built in real life. Although this might seem partly true, Hadid’s ideas come from the belief that it is the architect’s duty to contribute to society’s progress by facilitating the collective well-being of both the people and their surroundings.

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