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Zaha Hadid: 'I wouldn't build a prison'

Architect Zaha Hadid, outside Glasgow's Riverside Museum, her first major public commission in the UK, in 2011.

Story highlights

  • Architect Zaha Hadid says politicians should take care of their work force
  • Believes architecture can "alleviate an oppressive situation"
  • Full article to appear on CNN.com tomorrow

She wouldn't build a prison. But the world's most famous female architect, Zaha Hadid, says she's willing to work in countries which have faced criticisms over their human rights records.

The 62-year-old Iraqi-born Briton made the comments during an exclusive interview with CNN -- to appear in full Friday.

Hadid, the first woman to receive the Pritzker Prize in 2004 -- regarded as the Nobel of architecture -- designed Beijing's Galaxy Soho shopping center and Heydar Aliyev cultural center in Azerbaijan.

Is she concerned about the human rights credentials of the countries -- Hadid is responsible for 950 projects in 44 countries -- she works in?

"As an architect, if you can in any way alleviate an oppressive situation, or elevate a culture, then I think that you should," Hadid, who has been commissioned to build Japan's 2020 Olympic Stadium and recently opened London's Serpentine Sackler gallery, told CNN.

"It's different if someone asks you to build a prison -- I wouldn't do it. But if I'm doing a museum or a library, I think that's different," added Hadid, whose latest project is designing a superyacht.

    "I think that you can't isolate nations because somebody doesn't approve. And if that is the case, then they shouldn't have diplomatic relationships with them."

    And the conditions of the construction workers?

    "It's not your responsibility really. I think different nations should take care of their workforce.

    "As an architect, if you are involved in every layer then honestly you don't do anything. I'm not saying I shouldn't be thinking about it, but I think it's a job for the politicians, for the media, for the locals, to deal with it."

    For the full interview, see CNN on November 1.