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Zaha Hadid

The world of architecture lost an iconic 'greenovator' in the passing of Zaha Hadid on the 31st of March, 2016. Renowned as 'Queen of the Curve', Zaha Hadid is best remembered for the fluidity and curvature in her designs. Her style of architecture was known for its unique aesthetic value and sustainability that were further enhanced by liberally incorporating the use of glass. She firmly believed that all buildings had the capacity to contribute to a sustainable society. Born in Iraq, Zaha Hadid was a student of Mathematics at the American University of Beirut, before moving to London to pursue architecture at the Architectural Association School of Architecture. She worked for her former professors and then went on to become a partner. In 1980, she established her own practice in London. In 1988, a showing of her architectural drawings at an exhibition in New York's Museum of Modern Art placed her in the spotlight. Ever since, she has worked with international brands, the likes of which include Chanel, Adidas, Swarovski, Georg Jensen, to name a few. Zaha Hadid's forte lay in keeping up with the times and bringing the element of evolution in her architecture. She adapted easily to new technologies and worked with futuristic materials. With glass, she was able to give the swoopy, fluid forms to her buildings, which soon became her trademark. Her architectural firm Zaha Hadid Architects (headquartered in London) boasts of 400 employees, 950 projects across 44 countries, and still counting. 

Awards and recognition

Zaha Hadid has a commendable list of awards and achievements spanning her short-lived career. She was the first woman recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. In 2012, she was awarded the title of a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In 2015, she won the RIBA Gold medal in her own right. She won the UK Creative Arts' Leading Light Architecture Lifetime Achievement Award for the year 2015. She was also named the Huffington Post/World Post Thought Leaders 2015.



Her Pet Project London Aquatics Center, 2012 Olympics

Zaha Hadid's impressive body of work demonstrates her inherent passion for her craft. Whether it is the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre of Baku, Azerbaijan or the Guangzhou Opera House, the MAXXI at Rome or the Messner Mountain Museum, Corones the Green Roof in Seoul or the Broad Art Museum in the US, each embodies a priceless work of art. It is virtually impossible to single out one singular pet project, but in the context of sustainability, the London Aquatics Center certainly stands out.

When the 2012 Olympic Committee wanted the Summer Olympics to be the greenest games in history, it planned to use pre-existing venues wherever possible and build only those structures that would serve long-term uses. Aligning with this vision, Zaha Hadid designed the London Aquatics Center as a shrinking building, one that would eventually be scaled back to a 'legacy' version of its Olympic glory, hence making the transition from one of the largest Olympic venues in history, by capacity, to the smallest. The aquatics facility would include a 50-meter competition pool, a 25-meter dive pool, and a 50-meter training pool. During the Olympics, it would seat 17,500, but only 2,500 of those seats would remain after the competition. The 'wings' on either side of the structure would be dismantled, leaving only the central form.vThe excess material was to be resold or recycled.

Zaha Hadid said that she was ntrigued by the task of having to design a flexible building suitable for the Olympics as well as to the generations of Londoners who will use the pools long after the Games are over. Just like her green, sustainable architecture, Zaha Hadid will be a greenovator who will be remembered long after she has gone.

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