Read the German version

Zaha Hadid: “The queen of the curve”

A unique signature with revolutionary style

Zaha Hadid is one of the very few women who have achieved global success and established themselves as a brand in a field that is still dominated by men. Hadid’s buildings and designs bear the architect’s unique signature of flowing lines, which are evident in all of the works by the architecture industry’s own “queen of the curve”. In addition to the London Olympic Aquatics Centre and the Performing Arts Centre in Abu Dhabi, Zaha Hadid also designed the National Museum of the 21st Century Arts in Rome. Her style was revolutionary, and the architectural world is still mourning the loss of this extraordinary figurehead of contemporary design.

Baghdad beginnings

Zaha Hadid was born in 1950 in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The daughter of successful businessman and politician Muhammad Hadid, she attended a Catholic school and was taught by nuns. Hadid later enrolled in a mathematics degree at the American University in Beirut, but left the country before war broke out in 1972 to study at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. In 1980, Hadid opened her own architecture studio in London; her firm now employs over 400 people and has completed over 950 projects in 44 countries.

Zaha’s world-famous “curved” buildings

Zaha Hadid: Dynamic and expressive

Hadid’s works appear to be in constant motion and yet still manage to exude peacefulness and a sense of calm while eschewing traditional building concepts entirely. Online magazine Dea Vita wrote that the architect’s “eccentric diagonal perspectives, floating elements and futuristic design language” earned Hadid her reputation as “the inventor of post-constructivism”, and commented that the messages behind her works were “simple yet brilliant”.

Hadid first garnered international attention in 1983, with her designs for “The Peak Leisure Club” on a hillside in Hong Kong. The first of Hadid’s designs to be built and her breakthrough as an architect was a fire station commissioned by the Vitra glass factory in Weil am Rhein in 1993.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be awarded the Pritzker Prize, the architecture world’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize. A series of awards and accolades followed: In 2012, Zaha Hadid was made a dame by the Queen; she was named as UNESCO’s “Artist for Peace” and was included on Forbes Magazine’s list of “The World’s Most Powerful Women”. In 2016, she became the first female winner of the Royal Gold Medal awarded annually by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) for services to architecture.

An extraordinary contemporary architect

With a portfolio of masterpieces including the BMW headquarters in Leipzig, the Phaeno Science Center in Wolfsburg and the Library and Learning Center on the campus of Vienna’s University of Economics and Business, Zaha Hadid deservedly earned her reputation as one of the best and most renowned contemporary architects of her generation. In what would ultimately become one of the last few projects to be realised in her lifetime, Zaha Hadid completed a mountaineering museum in South Tyrol, in partnership with renowned climber Reinhold Messner.

The mountaineering museum, which is sited at an altitude of 2275 metres, tells the story of mountaineering across a series of primarily underground spaces. In Beijing, a new airport is currently being constructed based on Hadid’s designs. The Beijing New International Airport will be the biggest airport in the world, and is expected to be open in 2019.

In death, Hadid has left us with a legacy of unique, innovative and spectacular works – and countless designs that may yet be posthumously realised.


One thing is certain: The “queen of the curve” will never be forgotten.

Architecture Design Pritzker Prize

Start a discussion about this article

This will also interest you