At Large  May 27, 2020  Chandra Noyes

Zaha Hadid's Architecture of the Future

wikimedia commons, Warren Whyte

Dongdaemun Design Plaza & Park, Central Seoul, Korea, 2007–2013.

Dubbed the “queen of curve,” Zaha Hadid was an Iraqi-British architect who shaped modern cities the world over. Known for her sweeping forms that reflect their environments and seem ready to move, her futuristic designs are stunning. Like the spaceship-like Dongdaemun Design Plaza & Park, above, many of Hadid’s designs offer multiple uses and spaces to explore, including a roof-top public park, auditoriums, and museums. These massive structures are small cities within a city, shaping the way their surrounding cities function.

In her lifetime, Hadid won every major architectural prize and was often the first woman to do so, including the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004, and the Royal Gold Medal awarded by the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2015.

Hadid unexpectedly died in 2016 at the age of 65. She was being treated for bronchitis at a hospital in Miami, where she was working on her Scorpion Tower, now known as One Thousand Museum, a massive twisting skyscraper. Though her untimely death was a blow, Hadid was so prolific that many projects have continued after her death.

Here is a sampling of Hadid’s ground-breaking work around the world.

wikimedia commons, Dineshraj Goomany

London Aquatics Centre, 2005–2012.

Created for the 2012 London Summer Olympics, the London Aquatics Centre’s winged design is reminiscent of the arching form of a swimmer in motion. The space contains three pools and accommodates 17,500 spectators. Though controversial for its price and the time it took to complete, its poetic design won over critics.

flickr/Francisco Anzola

Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center in Baku, Azerbaijan, 2007–2013.

The eight-story Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku, Azerbaijan sweeps and flows with the landscape. Housing auditoriums, a conference center, a library, and a museum, the cultural center was created using no straight lines and won the 2014 Design Museum Design of the Year Award.

wikimedia commons, Mr a

Guangzhou Opera House, Guangzhou, China, 2003–2010.

The Guangzhou Opera House melds with the fountain at its base, merging the glass facade with the water's surface. Meant to resemble two pebbles on the bank of the Pearl River, the building's interior similarly flows and undulates like the moving of water.

flickr/Rob Deutscher

Galaxy SOHO, Beijing, China, 2008–2012.

A mixed-use building, the Galaxy SOHO resembles a pod of four beehives. Arising from a base comprised of a mall and offices, the residential towers are connected via curving bridges at multiple levels.

wikimedia commons, Zhang Yong

Sky SOHO Hongqiao Building, Shanghai, China, 2010-2014.

The Sky SOHO, located in Shanghai's Hongqiao business district, seems to mimic the subways and trains it houses. Like many of Hadid's buildings, it looks ready to launch into motion at any moment.


Messner Mountain Museum, South Tyrol, Italy, 2015.

Perched atop a mountainside in northern Italy, Hadid's contribution to the six-museum collective that is the Messner Mountain Museum (MMM) evokes the thrill of climbing great heights. The MMM is a project of famous mountaineer Reinhold Messner, and Hadid's Corones building features a permanent exhibition dedicated to traditional climbing and mountaineering.


Zaragoza Bridge Pavilion, Zaragoza, Spain, 2005-2008.

An exhibit hall and pedestrian bridge, the Zaragoza Bridge Pavilion spans the Erbo River in Zaragoza, Spain. Created for Expo 2008, the exterior is comprised of 29,000 triangles, which let in light and provide views of the river below.

About the Author

Chandra Noyes

Chandra Noyes is the former Managing Editor for Art & Object.

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