Zaha Hadid: Architect Cheat Sheet |
Architect Cheat Sheet: Zaha Hadid

Architect Cheat Sheet: Zaha Hadid

Learn more about this starchitect

Sharon Cheng
Written by –
Sharon Cheng
on August 5th 2019
Hong Kong based. Sharon loves traveling around the world, but Hong Kong is always her favorite space to be inspired. Addicted to graphic design, she finds creative ideas for images and video always pop up in her mind!

Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid was one of the most famous female architects. She is also known as the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, in 2004 and made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II for services to architecture in 2012. In 2015, Hadid was the first (and still only) woman honored with the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects. Even now, the name of Hadid is still recognizable as one of the most influential female architects in the world.


“Architecture is like writing. You have to edit it over and over so it looks effortless.” — Zaha Hadid

Zaha Hadid |

Early Life

Zaha Hadid was born in Baghdad, Iraq on 31 October 1950. She belonged to a wealthy family, with a father who was a successful industrialist from Mosul in the northern city of Iraq. After studying mathematics at the American University of Beirut, she moved to London in 1972 to study at the Architectural Association School of Architecture.

Zaha Hadid |

Career Beginnings

After Hadid has graduated, she went to work for her former professors Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis, meeting many other contemporary architects during this time. In 1980, Hadid officially started up her own architectural firm, Zaha Hadid Architects, in London.

Vitra Fire Station

The Vitra Fire Station was the first of Hadid’s buildings designed and constructed. She was asked to design a small fire station for the Vitra factory in Switzerland. It was  composed with sharp diagonals and combined raw concrete and glass. Soon after completion, the fire station became an exhibit space to celebrate Frank Gehry’s work.


This marked the start of many popular buildings designed by Hadid that used curves and imaginative designs.

Key Points of Note

London Aquatics Centre

London | 2011

This is the main building for the 2012 Summer Olympics, which covers three swimming pools and 17,500 seats inside. Hadid once described this aquatics centre as “inspired by the fluid geometry of water in movement.”

Dongdaemum Design Plaza

Seoul | 2014

This is the largest buildings in Seoul and it’s called “Great Gate of the East.” With the smooth-skinned and round-shaped structure, it perfectly combines the nature and history of the city.

Death and Legacy

Hadid died of a heart attack on March 31 2016, aged 65. Her studio announced that “Zaha Hadid was widely regarded to be the greatest female architect in the world today,” and her firm continues with many projects around the world.

Zaha Hadid |
Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid in her London office, UK, circa 1985. Image by Christopher Pillitz/Getty Images

What do you think of Zaha Hadid and her work?


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