Friday, April 22, 2011

Ettore Sottsass & Bruno Munari

Ettore Sottsass was an Italian architect and designer of the 20th century. Born in Innsbruck (Austria) in 1917, he grew up in Milan as his dad was working there as an architect. He later moved to Turin to study at the “Politecnico de Torino” and followed his father’s path in graduating in architecture in 1939.
Moreover, he travelled a lot during his life and it is very probable that his experiences affected him and changed his way of seeing the world. For instance, he spent most of WWII in a concentration camp in Yugoslavia when serving for the Italian military, but he also travelled to India and to the United States.
He began working as a design consultant for Olivetti and designed different objects such as equipments, furniture and typewriters. That is where he developed his ability to bring office equipment into the realm of popular culture thanks to its design and to a specific use of color. His major achievement remains probably the “Valentine typewriter” (1969).
Then, his worked diversified and he for instance designed ceramic sculptures, always presenting them within a context of consumerism. Nevertheless, Sottsass can aslo be remebered for his collaboration with other young architects and designers in the “Memphis Group” of which he was one of the founders. With them, he really experienced other forms of arts that were different from his usual modernist works, and his works are now seen as characteristics of Post-Modernism in design and in the arts

Bruno Munari on the other hand, was born a decade before Sottsass (in 1907) when the “Art Nouveau” was still existing. However, one can say that he was experienced a very similar cultural and artistic influence as he also grew up in Milan.
Nevertheless, he joined the second-generation Milanist Futurist movement at the end of the 1920s in which he worked on painting, design kinetic experimentation but also on photography and on advertising. To some extent, one can draw a link between Munari and Sottsass as they both worked on subjects related to consumerism.
It is nonetheless necessary to note that his work did not restrain to visual arts such as sculpture, painting and graphic, as he also created non visual works such as poetry.
At last, he is remembered for founding the Italian Movement for Concrete Arts in 1948 with some Italian collaborators such as Monnet and Soldati. Basically, this movement promoted the resort to abstractionism and promoted the freedom of associating freely any symbol with reality. In that understanding, colors and lines are concrete by themsleves.


Sottsass and the priority to the object...

Although Ettore Sottsass' work covers a wide variety of objetcs, from industrial design to craftmanship, the artist and his art can be distiguished by a coherent formal language.
Shapes are simple, clear, totemic and geometric. His work is based on elementary graphic cigns, such as circles, squares, lines, dots,... in an attempt to snatch geometric forms from mathematics and intellectual efforts

Color is another crucial aspect of Sottsass' work. It is considered as the expression of life and generates a particular vocabulary enhancing its composition. He breaks away from the quiet, sober, serious and cold compromise of the typical industrial design of his time to create objects that are "more colorful, more joyful, more optimistic". Objects become expressive by the association of unconventional forms and hues and contradictory materials. The excentricity and irony of Sottsass' furniture are emblematic

Compared to the first practical-usage typewriter, produced by the American company E. Remington & Sons, Ettore Sottsass brought color and infancy to the object, making a typewriter a familar, playful component of life, a far cry form its scary, serious-looking predecessors.

Through his movement Memphis, Sottsass makes design a mediatic phenomenon oriented towards spectacular visual communication. Produced in a limited number, his objects are an attempt to depart from the banality of everyday life, giving priority to the imaginary and surprise. They quickly become the visible symbol of a new lifestyle, albeit reserved for an elite. Eventually, it is the minds of people and the world of fashion, advertisement and graphism that he will durably mark.

Sottsass, through his creation agency Sottsass Associati, will later tackle more functional and technical issues, those linked to the constraints of the mass market, to devote his attention to architecture and industrial design. He will work for an international and prestigious clientele (Apple, Phillips, Siemens, Alessi, Zanotta, Fiat) and creates at the beginning ot he 80's the entire image of the brand and design the interior of all of Esprit's boutiques.

Giving priority to the object, Ettore Sottsass has revolutionized the concept of industrial design through a fromal language and the unconventional use of colors, bringing design in the center of a mediatic society of mass-production.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Wassily Chair

Back at the Bauhaus, one of his first projects was the 1926 steel club armchair, also known as the Model B3 chair, and later renamed the Wassily, after the Bauhaus teacher Wassily Kandinsky, for whom it was not designed, but who liked it so much that he ask for a duplicate for his personal quarters.


Width – 31, Depth – 28, Height – 29

Weight : 30 pounds

The original product was only in black and white

It looks very light, pure, without any decoration or ornament, it is bare. It looks pragmatic, useful, but it doesn't look very comfortable because of the angle of the seat. This element makes it differ from conventional chairs which usually have a seat parallel to the ground.


It was made from extruded nickel-plated tubular steel. Unusually light and easy to assemble from ready-made steel tubes, the chair was the result of Breuer's years of experiments with bending steel and was immediately hailed as an important breakthrough in furniture design. "I thought that this out of all my work would earn me the most criticism," he noted, "but the opposite of what I expected came true".

The frame of the chair was made from polished, bent, nickelled tubular steel, which later became chrome plated. The seat came in canvas, fabric or leather in black section.

It was first produced by the manufacturer Thonet.


Nowadays, rates can vary generally for the Wassily chairs. You will find them at costs beginning from $500 to $2000 and above. The Wassily that are manufactured by Knoll are specifically more expensive because they have the official licence. As the chair has been copied a lot, you can find chairs similar to the Wassily chair at lower prices. The most expensive of all are the original models who were produced by Thonet, and went out of production during WWII.


A big part of the success that this chair has is a result of the fact that it was able to fill up a clear place at precisely the correct time. In past times, people were becoming fed up with the same old designs and simply desired something superior.

This chair was revolutionary in the use of the materials and methods of manufacturing. It is said that the handlebar of Breuer's Adler Bicycle inspired him to use steel tubing to build the chair, and it proved to be an appropriate material because it was available in quantity.

The design (and all subsequent steel tubing furniture) was technologically feasible only because the German steel manufacturer Mannesmann had recently perfected a process for making seamless steel tubing. Previously, steel tubing had a welded seam, which would collapse when the tubing was bent.

These days, the Wassily chair holds a proud spot at the Museum of Modern Art, NY. This chair became so well-known through the decades that you can even buy paper prints of it now.

Marcel Breuer

Marcel Lajos Breuer was born in Pécs, Hungary in 1902, and became on of the greatest architects and furniture designers of the 20th century .

Breuer used new technologies and new materials in order to develop his 'International Style' of work.

Architectural style, an early and influential phase of the Modern Movement, originating in Western Europe in the 1920s but finding its fullest expression in the 1930s, notably in the USA. It is characterized by a dominance of geometric, especially rectilinear, forms; emphasis on asymmetrical composition; large expanses of glazing; and white rendered walls. Breuer was one of the founders of this movement, dominant in 20th-century architecture, which grew out of the technological innovations of 19th-century Industrial architecture. ‘Truth to materials’ and ‘form follows function’ are its two most representative principles.

The Modern Movement gained momentum after World War II when its theories were influential in the planning and rebuilding of European cities. The work of Le Corbusier is perhaps most representative of the underlying principles of the movement; other notable early modernists include Adolf Loos, Peter Behrens, Walter Gropius, and Mies van der Rohe.Breuer first studied art in Vienna after winning a scholarship. Marcel was unhappy with the institution and found work instead at a Vienese architecture office. From 1920 to 1928 he was a student and teacher at Germany's Bauhaus, a school of design where modern principles, technologies and the application of new materials were encouraged in both the industrial and fine arts.

The Bauhaus was a school that combined crafts and the fine arts, founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar in 1919. It was built on the idea of creating a 'total' work of art in which all arts, to unify art, craft, and technology. The Bauhaus style became one of the most influential currents in Modernist architecture and modern design. The school existed in three German cities (Weimer from 1919 to 1925, Dessay from 1925 to 1932 and Berlin from 1932 to 1933), under three different architect-directors : Walter Gropius from 1919 to 1928, Hannes Meyer from 1928 to 1930 and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe from 1930 until 1933, when the school was closed by its own leadership under pressure from the Nazi regime.

After completing his studies at the Bauhaus Marcel traveled to Paris, where he worked in an architects office. After a year he was appointed as head of the carpentry workshop at the Bauhaus. Breuer was given the title of 'young master'.

Breuer designed a whole range of tubular metal furniture including chairs, tables, stools and cupboards. Tubular steel has lots of qualities; it is affordable for the masses, hygienic and provides comfort without the need for springs to be introduced. Breuer considered all of his designs to be essential for modern living.

Breuer also designed the interiors and furnishings for the master's houses at the Bauhaus, which by then had moved to Dessau.

Not only did Breuer design furniture, he also designed a standardised metal house and later on designed his Bamboos house. Breuer continued to teach at the Bauhaus until 1928 and for the next three years directed his own architectural practice in Berlin. During this time he designed interiors, furniture and department stores. The buildings he designed still remained unbuilt.

In 1935 Breuer was forced to emigrate to London to escape the nazis, and joined Gropius there. In London he worked in partnership with the architect, F.R.S Yorke and together they they completed several houses in Sussex, Hampshire, Berkshire and Bristol. In 1936 they designed the Gane pavilion in Bristol, which combined wood and local stone. This was very different from the type of work produced at the Bauhaus, combining steel, glass and modern materials.

After 1937 Breuer moved to America. He was offered a professorship at Harvard University' s School of Design in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He set up an architectural studio with Walter Gropius in Massachusetts and together they designed the Pennsylvania Pavilion at the 1939 New York's World Fair.

In 1947 the Museum of Modern Art in New York ran a touring exhibition of Breuer's work.

In 1953 Breuer worked as part of a team designing the UNESCO building in Paris.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Avant Garde

Martin Margiela has been called the J. D. Salinger of the fashion world, and rightly so -- he refuses to be photographed and will only be interviewed by fax. He won't even put his name on his clothes, branding them instead with a blank label. Margiela is perhaps the most underexposed designer around. But, in another way, he's continually overexposed, as his collections routinely reveal the designer's techniques and interests in their very construction. Bearing visible stitches, exposed hems, tailor's markings, and external shoulder pads, his collections never fail to both shock and delight. Margiela was born in Belgium in 1957. Early in his career, he became part of the Antwerp Six, an important fashion group whose other members included Dries van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester, and Walter Van Beirendonck. In 1984 he joined Jean-Paul Gaultier's design team, an experience that would profoundly shape his fashion sense. Leaving Gaultier in 1988, Margiela launched his own label, which soon became known for its stand-out, theme-oriented collections. His "Flat Collection" moved sleeves and armholes to the front, so garments would lie perfectly flat when not worn. His 1996 "Photoprint Collection" consisted of crepe garments printed with images of fur coats and heavy sweaters. Other collections have used broken dishes and bacterial mold; still others have featured no new designs, only favorite pieces from previous collections that have all been re-dyed gray. Margiela always puts on a show, using vacant lots and old subway cars as runways, and marionettes and hangers as models. In 1997, Margiela was hired to design the women's ready-to-wear line for Herm's. His first Herm's collection proved he could color inside the lines when required to; it was as horsy and conservative as Herm's could wish. With his own label, however, Margiela remains firmly planted in the avant-garde.

Source : Art + Culture

Cinderella's shoes

These shoes are not made of glass, but of plastic. As Cinderella who only kept one, they are not sold by pair, but individually, at the price of $1,277. A pair comes for $2,580.

Martin Margiela : Biography

Born in Belgium(1959), Martin Margiela studied at the Antwerpen's Fine Arts School(1980) and was a freelance designer for 5 years after graduation.

He worked for Jean Paul Gaultier for two years (1985-87) and decided to strike out on his own, showing his first collection under his own label in 1988.

Considered by many as part of the new avant-garde designers, Martin Margiela is a master of deconstruction and reconstruction of garments.

He can see beyond the garment and the fabric - like destroying a gown to create a jacket from it, ripping a lot of old socks and making a sweater from them.

You can call it recycling, but it goes beyond that, because the final product is a far cry from the original fueled by Martin Margiela's imagination.

He has his pecularities - he never shows himself in the catwalk, and he uses old forms, old mannequins, and clothes hangers to show his collection.

Behind these eccentrities is a designer beyond fashion, beyond the fabric and the dress and a man who makes his imagination a reality when it comes to creating a garment.

Source :

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Done by an artist for the artists Author:Jonathan Glancey Date: 2011-03-03

The world's most spectacular opera house has just opened in China – but it could have been built in Cardiff. Jonathan Glancey reports on Zaha Hadid's stunning new project

Bursting into neon life ... Zaha Hadid's Guangzhou Opera house

I walk up the ramp of the new Guangzhou Opera House, and suddenly it seems like Chinese New Year. The brand new skyscrapers that surround it, each named after some global finance corporation, burst into neon life, flickering and flashing in a way that makes Las Vegas seem like a mere twinkle. By contrast, the opera house seems almost serene – remarkable given that it's the latest design by Zaha Hadid, an architect celebrated for buildings that shoot across the urban landscape like bolts of lightning. Yet, while the pulsating lights disguise what are regular office towers, once inside, Hadid's opera house reveals itself in all its complexity, at once highly theatrical and insistently subtle.
Set in Haixinsha Square, a brand new stretch of south China's ever-expanding trading city, the opera house takes the form of what appear to be two enormous pebbles that might have been washed up on the shores of the Pearl river, on which Guangzhou stands. Rough-shaped things sheathed in triangles of granite and glass protrusions, one houses the main auditorium while the smaller encloses a multipurpose performance space. There's no question, though, that the opera house is best experienced at night. As darkness falls and the foyers fill up with people, the building magically comes to life.
The opening-night audience has come to experience Akram Khan's cacophonous dance piece, Vertical Road. Yet all eyes are trained on the doors as the architect makes her entrance. Tonight, Hadid is architecture's Queen of the Night, making stately progress through a phalanx of photographers. For the British contingent in the wave-like foyer, there is something special in seeing Hadid inside the building she should have built in Britain years ago.
Ah, yes, the Cardiff Bay Opera House. In 1994, Hadid had designed a magical theatre for the Welsh coast. It would have become the most radical and compelling building in Britain, but an alliance of narrow-minded politicians, peevish commentators and assorted dullards holding the Lottery purse strings ensured it was never built. More than a decade on, Hadid has built her opera house. Of course, it's not the same design, yet the building embodies the spirit as well as something of the presence of the great theatre we could have had in Britain rather than here, 6,000 miles away.

The ramp down to the lower floors; the two pebble-like structures are connected underground
The Chinese had been thinking of an opera house in Guangzhou as early as 1993, when mayor Lin Shusen championed the new commercial and cultural quarter by the river. "It was incredible," says Hadid. "When I first came to Guangzhou in 1981, it seemed such a hard and dour place with everyone in Chairman Mao uniforms. By the late 90s it had begun to grow very fast indeed, but where we're standing now [in the foyer of the opera house], there was nothing whatsoever."
Even in a city famous for building at breakneck speed, the opera house has taken more than five years to complete. But then, this was never going to be an ordinary commission. The main building comprises a freestanding concrete auditorium set within an audacious granite and glass-clad steel frame. The exposed frame is a stunning thing, a kind of giant spider's web protruding in several unlikely directions. It seems to challenge the laws not just of conventional geometry, but of gravity itself.
The Chinese state engineers charged with the project were pushed to new limits. "The magic, though," says Simon Yu, the Scottish-born project architect, "is in the joints that hold the structure in place." We look up at them. Here are star-like, cast steel junction boxes that keep the adventurous structure in tension. They look spectacular. "We made them the same way they made great medieval bells. They were sandcast in an old fashioned foundry in Shanghai where the sparks flew like . . . fireworks."
Between this exposed steel skeleton and the auditorium lie the foyers. Here, you are hard pressed to find a straight line. They waltz around the auditorium, twisting, turning, ducking and weaving. Grand stairs slope and twist majestically from the black granite floors of the foyer up to the balconies and upper tiers of the auditorium. Audience members will find it hard to break away from these spectacular vistas and take their seats.

The opera house surrounded by the urban skyline
The auditorium proves to be a further wonder, a great grotto like a shark's mouth set under a constellation of fairylights. The space is asymmetric, but despite its unusual shape, the acoustics are perfect; the work of Harold Marshall, the veteran New Zealand acoustician. Intriguingly, he says that the strange angles of Hadid's auditorium work to produce an acoustic perfectly suited to both western and traditional Chinese opera. "There are very, very few asymmetrical auditoriums," says Marshall. "But asymmetry can be used to play with sound in very satisfying ways; it's more of a challenge tuning it, but the possibilities are greater, and this one has a beautifully balanced sound." Could it have been done in Cardiff Bay? "Of course it could."
"Next year," says Yu Zhang, the president of the opera house, "we will be putting on Chinese versions of Cats and Mamma Mia." No one can accuse the Guangzhou Opera House of elitism. In fact, the aim has been to shape a building, and an institution, open to all talents. In the backstage areas, lucky schoolchildren as well as professional musicians and dance companies will rehearse in stunning mirrored rooms set under rippling ceilings, calling to mind underwater caverns and grottoes.
Outside, the experience of strolling between and around the two "pebbles" is an extension of this architectural performance. The narrow crevice between the two structures reminds me a little of the enchanting entrance to Petra in Jordan through high walls of narrowing rocks. Local people clearly enjoy it. One boy runs up a sloping wall and tries to perform a somersault. Another seems to wonder whether he might race his bike up the opposite slope; but, with so many unsmiling security guards about, he decides, wisely, to pedal on.
An even greater performance lies above. Here, by night, the surrounding towers appear to grow out of the tops of Zaha's "pebbles", creating ever more surreal skyscapes at each turn of the head. These views can be experienced from inside the lobbies, too, lit from end to end by windows cut into the roofs and ceilings. Through these, you can see the drama of the city even while strolling through the depths of the opera house. "The idea," says Hadid, "is that the building is really a part of the city and you're aware of the city even when inside. It doesn't just go away."

A gap, or crevice, between Zaha Hadid's 'pebbles': the main opera house is on the left,
and the smaller, multi-purpose auditorium is on the right
A post-opera stroll
Hadid has long talked about the idea of buildings as landscapes, of shaping structures and spaces within them as if they might meander like a river. This is a beautiful idea very nearly realised in Guangzhou. If I have a criticism it is this: instead of dropping down to meet the Pearl River, the landscape of the opera house ends abruptly with further developments, including a viewing stand built for the 2010 Asian Games, and a concatenation of lumpen apartment blocks. It would have been so very special to have stepped out of a performance of Billy Budd or The Flying Dutchman and to have walked down to the river without having to think about which way to turn.
Even then, Guangzhou has to be applauded for giving Hadid and her team such a free hand with the design, when such a building has yet to make its debut in Britain. Despite building on a grand scale around the world, in the UK Hadid has just a school in Brixton, Maggie's Centre in Kirkcaldy and the Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympics to her credit. For, here is an architect clearly in love with the arts, and who is an artist herself. A performing one, too, as she receives the adulation of Guangzhou walking slowly and yet so proudly through a building that she had been thinking about for almost 20 years.

An interesting article discussing two very famous Opera Houses.

Could Southern China's new cultural beacon eclipse the Sydney Opera House?

Sydney’s official Chinese "sister city" Guangzhou commissioned the design of Darling Harbour's tranquil Chinese Garden of Friendship for the 1988 bicentennial celebrations. But with Guangzhou’s new state-of-the-art opera house now open to the public and boasting superior acoustic planning to that of the Sydney Opera House, are the sister cities set to become sibling rivals?
Designed and constructed over the past eight years, Guangzhou Opera House and performing arts complex is one of the major triumphs of award-winning Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid, whose firm is also responsible for the Beethoven Concert Hall in Bonn, the New Dance and Music Centre in The Hague, and the JS Bach Chamber Music Hall in Manchester. Hadid's practice is renowned for strikingly contemporary yet naturalistic forms, as seen in the two-boulder structure of the Guangzhou building and in projects as innovative as the Chanel Mobile Art Pavillion, which has toured to Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York and Paris.
Hadid’s team worked closely with acousticians from the Melbourne-based Marshall Day firm to ensure that the 1,800-seat Guangzhou hall caters for both Western and Chinese opera, two artforms with vastly different requirements in terms of vocal projection.
The venue, which will stage more than 200 shows a year, officially opened its doors on February 24. The debut performance was a contemporary dance production by British-Bengali Akram Khan, whose fluid gestures and East-meets-West approach complemented the aesthetic of Guangzhou’s new architectural marvel.
Overlooking the Pearl River, it is the largest performing arts centre in South China, described by Hadid’s firm as “a lasting monument to the New Milennium”. It also looks to ancient design principles and Zen philosophy, the flowing exterior inspired by traditional Chinese gardens like the one Guangzhou gifted Sydney.

Zaha Hadid's vases in "The Language of Things" by Deyan Sudjic (p.93)

In the chapter "Luxury", Deyan Sudjic presents the pursuit of luxury as "more ubiquitous than at any previous moment in history". Through his description of the famous departement store in London, Selfridges, "a museum in wich everything is for sale", he counts Zaha Hadid's vases as one of the most-desireful (and most-desired) objects.
Zaha Hadid, by her blurring of boundaries between what is art and what is design, attained the rank of the most searched-after contemporary designers.

"At a secular moment, in which neither magic nor religion - the original mainsprings of art - has quite the prestige that it once enjoyed, luxury can be understood as a synthetic alternative. For certain objects, the concept of luxury is used to create the aura that art once provided" - Deyan Sudjic.

Zaha Hadid talking about her vision of design

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Images etc

Nice work so far but rather incomplete.
Could you please place this province on a map for us and also post images of this project. Also tell something about the cost/value ratio.

E Covington

Guangzhou Opera House

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is the capital of the Guangdong Province, in Southern China. The city is only a few kilometers awat from Shenzen and Hong-Kong, which places it in one of the richest regions of the country.

The Guangzhou Opera House


What is it made of ? How can it be reproduced using its raw materials ?

The 70,000-square-meter complex of steel, glass and concrete was built using both cutting-edge and near-obsolete construction methods. A pair of asymmetric buildings—the main structures of the opera house—contain a metal skeleton that requires 59 unique, custom-cast steel joints. According to Ms. Hadid’s firm, the Shanghai foundry that made them borrowed techniques perfected in medieval Europe to produce church bells. Then, since precision was critical to ensuring that the irregularly shaped shell was structurally sound, engineers assembled the components using lasers and GPS positioning.


What is the cost of production, distribution and sustainability ? How long does it take to manufacture and where is it done ?

The cost is estimated to be an investment of $120 million. It took nearly 8 years to make it.


What does it look like ? How does it differ from other objects in the same family ?

The 1,800-seat venue dominates the riverfront of the prime Zhujiang New Town business district. The exterior of the opera house is inspired by the idea of two rocks in a stream, “a poetic analogy,” says Ms. Hadid, who as a young architect in 1981 visited traditional gardens in China. The approach resulted in spaces that smoothly flow into others. Ramps and gradually cascading stairs give access to the main entrances and the outdoors. Inside, visitors go from one area to the next surrounded by the kind of clean, fluid lines and textures that have become Ms. Hadid’s signature. In the grand entrance hall, windows composed of triangular pieces of glass let in sunlight by day and the neighborhood’s neon-lit skyscrapers and towers by night.The spine and structural frame of the faceted skin is a dominant element in the interior space: the lobby, entrance, and circulation area interacts with the dynamic treatment, moving and guiding the visitors throughout the volume. In addition to the 1,800-seat grand theatre, the complex hosts a multifunction hall,a number of auxiliary facilities and support premises.

This dune-like building looks like an eroded valley, which makes it communicate with the nature around it, most precisely the river.


How does this object go beyong initial interpretation?

The Guangzhou Opera House is at the heart of Guangzhou’s cultural sites development. It will be a lasting monument to the New Millennium, confirming Guangzhou as one of Asia’s cultural centers.

Its unique twin boulder design will enhance urban function by opening access to the riverside and dock areas and creating a new dialogue with the emerging new town.

Does it have a cultural legacy whether it is for the mass, the elite?

What is really special about the GOH is the marriage of high, intellectual, brilliant, avant-guarde architecture – which instinctively, added to the cost of production, directs the building towards a specific, high-class use by the elite – and true populism:

Next year, the GOH is not only going to have high opera, chinese opera – generally reserved to a smaller economic & cultural elite – but also 'cats and mama-mia's' for the larger mass. The GOH thus becomes a grand, wonderful opera house for everyone.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Zaha Hadid : Some buildings nominated for the Stirling Prize

Architect Zaha Hadid was born in 1950 in Baghdad, Iraq. She has become one of the most famous architects in the world.
Buildings nominated for the prestigious Stirling Prize include
MAXXI (2010)

Nordpark Cable Railway Station (2008)

Phaeno Science Centre (2006) and BMW Central Building (2005).



Zaha Hadid's style is boldly contemporary, organic and innovative. The architect pushes design through new technology and materials and never does ordinary. Aswell as creating architecture the architect is a celebrated painter, designer of furniture and interior products + fittings such as bowls and chandeliers

Zaha Hadid : Biography

The first woman to win the Pritzker Prize for Architecture in its 26 year history, ZAHA HADID (1950-) has defined a radically new approach to architecture by creating buildings with multiple perspective points and fragmented geometry to evoke the chaos of modern life.

Born in 1950 in Baghdad, she grew up in a very different Iraq from the one we know today. The Iraq of her childhood was a liberal, secular, western-focused country with a fast-growing economy that flourished until the Ba’ath party took power in 1963, and where her bourgeois intellectual family played a leading role. Female role models were plentiful in liberal Iraq, but in architecture, female role models anywhere, let alone in the Middle East, were thin on the ground in the 1950s and 1960s. No matter. After convent school in Baghdad and Switzerland, and a degree in mathematics at the American University in Beirut, Hadid enrolled at the Architectural Association in London in 1972.

The AA of the 1970s was the perfect place for ambitious, independently minded would-be architects to flourish. Under Alvin Boyarski as director, it became the most fertile place for the architectural imagination, home to a precocious generation of students and teachers who are now household names, such as Rem Koolhaas, Daniel Libeskind, Will Alsop and Bernard Tschumi. It was a period when pre-1968 optimistic modernism was being abandoned amid economic uncertainty and cultural conservatism. In architecture too, democratic modernism was perceived to have failed and there was a swing towards historicist post-modernism and conservation. The AA’s theorists did the opposite. They rejected kitsch post-modernism to become still more modernist. Like snakes shedding their skins, they discarded the failed utopian projects of “first” modernism to think up a new modernism with a more sophisticated idea of history and human identity, an architecture embodying modernity’s chaos and disjuncture in its very shape.

You could call Hadid's work baroque modernism. She shatters both the classically formal, rule bound modernism of Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier and the old rules of space — walls, ceilings, front and back, right angles. She then reassembles them as what she calls “a new fluid, kind of spatiality” of multiple perspective points and fragmented geometry, designed to embody the chaotic fluidity of modern life.

Hadid’s architecture denies its own solidity. Short of creating actual forms that morph and change shape – still the stuff of science fiction – Hadid creates the solid apparatus to make us perceive space as if it morphs and changes as we pass through. Her obsession with shadow and ambiguity is deeply rooted in Islamic architectural tradition, while its fluid, open nature is a politically charged riposte to increasingly fortified and undemocratic modern urban landscapes.

All of which would have been impossible without the advent of computer-aided design to allow architects almost infinite freedom to create any shape they wanted. Actually building these new kinds of spaces was another matter. Such melodramatic shapes required significant investment, both financially and in terms of engineering.

Slowly, curious clients emerged who were willing to spend money to realise Hadid’s peculiar new architecture. It was a stuttering start. Her first big success, The Peak, a spa planned for Hong Kong, was never built. Nor were buildings on Berlin’s Kurfürstendamm, or an art and media centre in Dusseldorf. Hadid’s first built project, The Fire Station at the production complex of the Vitra office furniture group at Weil-am-Rhein on the German-Swiss border was a formal success but not a functional one.

Slowly it worked. Somewhat ironically, it was traditionally conservative Midwestern America that gave Hadid her real break. The Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati, Ohio was a chance to try out her ideas on a large scale and to conceive a stunning new take on curating and museum experience, imagined as “a kit of parts”, she says, which curators can customise for each show. “It’s like an extension of the city, the urban landscape.” Literally so.

Her impressionistic new space was realised. The New York Times described it, without overstatement, as “the most important new building in America since the Cold War.”

Crucially, Cincinnati gave Hadid the confidence to win a stream of commissions for: a ferry terminal in Salerno, Italy; a high-speed train station in Naples; a public archive, library and sport centre in Montpellier; Opera Houses in Dubai and Guangzhou, a performing arts centre in Abu Dhabi, private residences in Moscow and the USA as well as major master-planning projects in Bilbao, Istanbul and the Middle East. Even in conservative Britain, her adopted home, Hadid has recently completed Maggies Centre, a cancer care centre in Kirkaldy in Scotland.

Undoubtedly, Hadid has cemented her reputation as one of the world’s most exciting and significant contemporary architects. By transcending the realm of paper architecture to the built form, Hadid is certain to complete many memorable projects in the future.

Source :