Born on 31 October 1950 in Bagdad, Zaha Hadid was a major architect of our era and a figure of the Deconstructivist movement inspired by philosopher Jacques Derrida, a movement that refused the linear order of modern architecture. She passed away on 31 March 2016 in Miami, at the age of 65 years.
The daughter of Muhammad Hadid, a wealthy Iraqi businessman and liberal politician, she spent her childhood in France, Switzerland and the United Kingdom where she met Rem Koolhaas, in 1972, who became her teacher and mentor. Graduating in 1977, she parted ways with Rem Koolhas in 1979 to set up her own agency. A multiple prize-winner, she was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Prize in 2004, one of the most prestigious architecture awards, as well as the gold medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2015. Having constructed buildings on every continent, she often created controversy from making clumsy remarks as well as from some of her projects — that she sometimes abandoned — always extremely ambitious and uncompromising, at the limits of possibility. She was responsible for the MAXXI in Rome, the Canton Opera House, the Cardiff Opera House, the BMW plant in Leipzig. An international architect, her constructions stand in many world cities including Basel, Strasbourg, Beijing, Seoul, Taiwan, Naples, Milan, Barcelona, Rabat, Baku, Montpellier and Marseille.
Her architectural work reflected her character: impetuous, unpredictable, a type of controlled chaos, like “challenges to gravity” or “explosions fixed in space” or “the combination of enormous energy and infinite delicacy”, in the words of Rem Koolhaas. Her “revolutionary” concept of architecture being intended to reconfigure the nature of social links, Zaha Hadid stated that “an architecture vanguard transforms public space into civic space”.