Made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Elizabeth II, winner of two Stirling and a Pritzker Architecture Prize (to name a few); professor in some of the USA’s most prestigious Universities, Zaha Hadid is most well known for bringing designs, previously thought to be inconceivable or too ambitious to life. She is usually considered as a strong member of the deconstructivist movement, but I’m not sure I would agree for the following reasons.
Deconstructivism is said to be characterized by “an absence of harmony, continuity, or symmetry” and “the impression of the fragmentation of the constructed building”. I absolutely agree that her creations give an appearance of fragmentation or partition and that there is a lack of symmetry in most if not all of her buildings, but I’m sure you will recognize how there is no lack of continuity or harmony in those structures. Allow me to elaborate. If you read my previous entry you might remember Vienna’s Library and Learning Centre (it turns out it’s one of Zaha Hadid’s designs ). You might also remember how I described it as “the most contemporary looking of the bunch with all its lines and angles” and how “the straight lines of the building’s exterior separate as they move inward, becoming curvilinear and fluid to generate a free-formed interior canyon that serves as the principal public plaza of the center, as well as generating corridors and bridges ensuring smooth transitions between different levels” (2014, Archdaily).
(2014, Archdaily, Photograph by Iwan Baan)
You know what that sounds like to me? A puzzle. Zaha’s structures are made up of puzzle pieces. Very strange looking puzzle pieces, mind you, but they still somehow seem to fit together in varying and harmonious patterns. Just look at the Salerno Maritime Terminal in Salerno, Italy. It looks like a three-tiered puzzle from any angle you look at it. And all three of the tiers are somehow easily differentiated but seem to go together at the same time. Another example is Galaxy SOHO in Beijing, China; a beautiful interconnection of four different puzzles. It feels like you’re inside of an actual living breathing organism with how natural the curves feel and how seemingly vital parts of the structure are linked. You can’t honestly look at that and say, “Hey! That’s the epitome of deconstructivism right there!”.
“But what about the Antwerpen Havenhuis? That’s a combination of two completely different structures and eras of architecture. That’s a clear demonstration of the movement”, to which I would respond with “keep it down! I’m trying to make a point here!”
So, is Zaha Hadid a disciple of deconstructivism? You could look at one half of her work and say that she is, or look at the other half and claim the opposite. To be honest with you, I simply brought up the subject to go in depth at her magnificent oeuvre. I recently dove into her portfolio of borderline magical creations and I wanted to share some of them with anyone who hadn’t discovered her work. I urge you to look her up, look at her conceptions in chronological order, and try to understand how she saw the world of architecture and how she could apply her ideas in the real world.
Baan, I. (2013). Library and Learning Centre University of Economics Vienna[Photograph found in Vienna]. Retrieved August 25, 2018, from https://iwan.com/portfolio/library-and-learning-centre-university-of-economics-vienna/ (Originally photographed 2013)
Baan, I. (n.d.). Galaxy SOHO[Photograph found in Galaxy SOHO, Zaha Hadid Architects, Beijing]. Retrieved from http://www.zaha-hadid.com/architecture/galaxy-soho/