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Published in 2A Magazine Issue #15&16 Autumn 2010 Winter  2011

Zaha Hadid

Zaha Hadid was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize (considered to be the Nobel Prize of architecture) in 2004 and is internationally known for both her theoretical and academic work. Each of her dynamic and innovative projects builds on over thirty years of revolutionary experimentation and research in the interrelated fields of urbanism, architecture and design.  Hadid’s work constantly tests the boundaries of architecture and design.

Working with senior office partner Patrik Schumacher, Hadid’s interest is in the rigorous interface between architecture, landscape, and geology as the practice integrates natural topography and human-made systems that lead to experimentation with cutting-edge technologies. Such a process often results in unexpected and dynamic architectural forms moulded by the realities of site and building requirements.

The MAXXI, National Museum Arts of the of 21st Century in Rome, the BMW Central Building in Leipzig and the Phaeno Science Center in Wolfsburg, Germany are excellent demonstrations of the Practice’s quest for complex, dynamic and fluid spaces. Previous seminal buildings, such as the Vitra Fire Station and the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati have also been hailed as architecture that transforms our vision of the future with new spatial concepts and bold, visionary forms.

In Italy, Zaha Hadid Architects’ projects include CityLife tower and masterplan in Milan; the Maritime Terminal of the port of Salerno; the new High-Speed Railway Station in Naples – Afragola; the Regium Waterfront in Reggio Calabria, the Jesolo Magica commercial centre and the Museum of Neuralgic and Contemporary Arts in Cagliari, Sardinia.

Zaha Hadid’s work of the past 30 years was the subject of a critically- acclaimed   retrospective exhibition at New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 2006, and was showcased last summer at the Design Museum in London. The practice’s most recently completed projects include the Nordpark Railway stations in Innsbruck, Mobile Art for Chanel, the Zaragoza Bridge Pavilion in Spain and the Burnham Pavilion in Chicago. Next year, Hadid’s revolutionary design the Guangzhou Opera House will open in China.



The MAXXI addresses the question of its urban context by continuing the low-level urban texture of the former army barracks as set against the higher level blocks on the surrounding sides.  In this way, the centre is more like an ‘urban graft’, a second skin to the site.  At times it affiliates with the ground, yet it also ascends and coalesces to become a mass where needed.  By the intertwining the circulation patterns with the urban context, the building’s tendril-like paths and open spaces overlap with those of the city.  The architectural elements are also geometrically aligned with the urban grids surrounding the site, further assimilating the building with its context.

The proposal offers a quasi-urban field rather than the building as an object.  The campus is organized and navigated on the basis of directional drifts and the distribution of densities rather than the key points, reflecting the porous and immersive character of the MAXXI as a whole.  Both the external and internal circulation follow the drift of the geometry, with vertical and oblique circulation elements located at areas of confluence, interference, and turbulence.  The move from object to field is critical to the architecture and the art that it will house.

In architectural terms, this is the most radically executed by the wall. In its many guises – solid surface, projection screen, canvas, window to the city – it becomes the primary space-making device. By running extensively across the site, the cursively and gestural lines traverse inside and out, letting the urban space coincide with gallery space.  Further deviations from classical composition occur where the walls become floor, or twist to become ceiling, or are voided to become large windows. By constantly shifting in dimension and geometry, the walls adapt themselves to whatever curatorial role is needed.

Zaha Hadid Architects




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