Hadid – Complete Works 1979-2013
By Jakob Harry Hybel
Iraqi-born Zaha Hadid ranks among today’s most controversial architects. Not only is she one of the few women who have managed to make their mark in the notoriously male-dominated field of architecture; she has also fought incessantly to legitimize the practice of parametric design in practice. In this updated Taschen monograph, the entire body of work of one of today’s most daring and steadily surprising architects is very comprehensively presented.
The book’s foreword, a short but insightful essay by Philip Jodidio, the book’s editor, neatly summarizes Hadid’s three-and-a-half decade-long career while highlighting key projects featured in the book. Jodidio further details moments of particular significance to Hadid – firstly, and perhaps most importantly, the seminal 1988 MoMA exhibition titled “Deconstructivist Architecture”. Hadid herself recounts that the exhibition – in which her work was on display along with like-minded avant-garde experimentalists such as Libeskind, Koolhaas and Gehry – marked a decisive moment, where non-normative architecture started to break away from purely theoretical discourse.
As was also the case with most of her fellow deconstructivists, Hadid had spent the first considerable period of her career winning intellectual acclaim but very few actual commissions. Her designs, although admired for their boldness, were mostly believed to be unviable. However, with the technological breakthroughs in computer programming, in particular parametric design, she was now able to translate her signature free-flow style into realizable form.
A Dream of Pure Form Disturbed
As for all of Taschen’s monographs, the chapters of this book follow a strict chronology, starting with Hadid’s earliest projects and ending with the ones currently under construction. The formative years of most illustrious architects are a curiosity at best. When it comes to Zaha Hadid, however, they are an indispensable testament to the clarity of her vision.
The most striking aspect of every one of Hadid’s projects is that while they differ in terms of scale, function, and geographic location, they are always instantly recognizable. As jury chairman Jacob Rothschild observed on the occasion of Hadid being honored as the first female Pritzker Prize recipient: “No project of hers is like the one before, but the defining characteristics remain consistent.”
Hadid has embraced the possibilities the new tools of the digital age, probably more wholeheartedly than any other architect. However, when examining her early, carefully layered paintings and drawings, shown in the first part of the book, it appears that Hadid worked computationally before the tools to do so were developed. One might even think that she anticipated their eventual creation. In any case, it should put an end to any attempt at reducing her work to mere hi-tech fetishism.
One thing stands abundantly clear when presented with the full scope of Hadid’s work: she has always been – and continues to be – explorative and inquisitive in a way few established architects dare to be. More than a quarter of a century later, she still seems equally committed in her pursuit of what Mark Wigley in the catalogue of the aforementioned MoMA exhibition called “a dream of pure form that has been disturbed”.
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