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A lasting legacy: How Zaha Hadid’s works shaped the architectural world

Before Zaha Hadid’s works catapulted her to architectural stardom, her designs were often dismissed as “technically unfeasible” by many a sceptic from a more traditional school of thought. With dynamic shapes and flowing lines, the “queen of curves” broke through the rigid paradigms of conventional architecture; with the team at her studio Zaha Hadid Architects, Hadid went on to create iconic buildings for cities across the world.

Zaha Hadid fire station: Fantasy meets functionality

After a major fire at the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein in Germany, the Swiss design company decided to build an on-site company fire station.

The winning design was by Zaha Hadid – and it was to become a seminal work that marked the start of her remarkable career in architecture.

Reminiscent of a stone sculpture, the fire station stands in stark contrast to the surrounding traditionally constructed production halls, with the angular concrete planes of the building converging on the main entrance. Hadid’s passion for architectural experimentation continues inside the building, where the design is characterised by a distinct lack of right angles and colour. The fire station is an example of one of Hadid’s earliest attempts to translate imagined concepts into functional architecture. Today, Vitra uses the space for events and exhibitions.

The fire station in Weil am Rhein by Zaha Hadid. Source: Dezeen / YouTube

Heydar Aliyev Center: A cultural centre sowing the seeds for growth

In 2007, Zaha Hadid designed the Heydar Aliyev Center for a competition to create a new cultural centre for the Azerbaijan capital of Baku. The sculptural building, which opened in 2012, houses a national museum, a library and multiple concert and conference halls, and represents a deliberate break away from the design language of the surrounding architecture.

To bring this technically challenging design of undulating waves, curves and folds to life, the engineers combined the main body of the building with a space frame; the specially designed mesh system surrounding this frame is covered with fibreglass-reinforced concrete and plastic panels.

During the day, depending on the sunlight and where you’re standing when you look at the building, the reflective shell of the centre changes in appearance. At night, the large glass panes open up views of what is going on inside.

Images of the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center. Source: Expo 2025 Baku Azerbaijan / YouTube

Riverside Museum in Glasgow: A building that flows from the city to the river

The Riverside Museum of Transport in Glasgow is another example of a Zaha Hadid work that is designed to dynamically harmonise with its environment. Located where the River Kelvin joins the Clyde, the building’s tunnel-like configuration connects the city to the river and its industrial harbour setting. The metallic shell of the zig-zagging roof opens at opposing ends with floor-to-ceiling glass panes.

In spite of these enormous glass panels, the exhibitions inside are largely hidden from external view. Depending on perspective, the peaks and troughs of the roof construction can appear as soft waves or harsher jagged edges. The Riverside Museum building – Zaha Hadid’s first work in Britain – was completed in 2011.

Around the world, Zaha Hadid’s new works are still enriching and enlightening the world of architecture.

Throughout her active career, Hadid perfected her flowing style, extending her creative sphere to include countless furniture designs and interior concepts.

Do you have a favourite among Zaha Hadid’s works? Which designs by this renowned architect resonate most with you?

Architecture Design

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