General, intro

„Zaha Hadid: It’s a Man’s World – with one Woman“

by Tanja Godlewsky

It’s a Man’s World – with one Woman

Zaha Hadid was one of the extremely few female architects who after long battles was “admitted” to join the male superstars of architecture. So far she is the only woman who received the Pritzker Prize, known as the “Nobel” prize in architecture! We will not list here her enormous body of work (this is to be found in many obituaries, or at www.zaha-hadid.com), we just want to honour her as a strong, tough, persistent and sometimes even harsh woman with an extremely maverick and headstrong idea of architecture. She was not just the “Lady of the Curves” as the media liked to call her; in her work years back she started off with deconstructivist, radial, spiky designs. Zaha Hadid did not make any concessions, she never rested until her concept got through – or she would let go the building without compromising. (This is not considered to be a typical female attitude at all!)

I never met Zaha Hadid, however she played a role in the anecdote I want to share with you: In the early 1990s I worked on a book about and with Rolf Fehlbaum, owner of vitra and its creative mind. He was the first one who commissioned Zaha Hadid to actually design a building, the fire station – her first ever realised architecture. A never seen before building that expressed both the concept of linking it to the surrounding landscape and its own artificiality. The noteworthy result, however (and strictly kept as a secret to the public): the building created a longitudinal, slim and pointy kind of triangle – to such an extent that the massive fire trucks would not fit into their fire station! That’s why after its completion the building had been converted into an additional space for events and exhibitions.

I like the Buddhist idea that the ancestors still are linked to the human world: In their sky they participate in news and new designs – the living  “beam” modern gifts from cardboard to the ancestors such as smartphones, laptops, cars, visa etc.

Zaha Hadid now will take a critical look at the built world from above, and most certainly will quarrel with her male competitors and get on their nerves, like Jørn Utzon, Le Corbusier, Oscar Niemeyer, Charles Eames, O. M. Ungers and so on and so on.

Done well, Zaha!

In 2014,  iGDN’s conference and exhibition „The GREAT small“ took place in Zaha Hadid’s Jokey Club Innovation Tower in Hong Kong. It was a wonderful experience to work in this exceptional building.