Zaha Hadid: The enduring influence of the 'Queen of the Curve'

Published 15th March 2018
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Zaha Hadid: The enduring influence of the 'Queen of the Curve'
Written by Nell Lewis
Pioneering architect Zaha Hadid passed away two years ago this month. She was aged 65.
The first woman to win prestigious awards, such as the Pritzker Architecture Prize and the RIBA Royal Gold Medal, Hadid's genius lives on in the array of spectacular buildings she left behind -- from the majestic swooping roof of the London Aquatics Center to the hypnotic futuristic design of Beijing's Galaxy Soho.
Yet the legacy of the "Queen of the Curve," as she was known, runs much deeper than the awards she accumulated and structures she created over her 40-year career.
Iraqi architect, Zaha Hadid.
Iraqi architect, Zaha Hadid. Credit: courtesy brigitte lacombe
As a woman, born in Iraq in 1950, Hadid consistently pushed boundaries, both social and artistic, to reach the peak of her profession. In the process, she encouraged a new generation of female architects to dream big.
CNN spoke to some of those who knew Hadid best, as well a group of young architects across the Middle East to ask why her legacy remains so special and how it has helped reshape their own ambitions.
Female architects on rise in Middle East

Tariq Khayyat -- head of the Middle East region for Zaha Hadid Architects

"She's the Queen of the Curve, she's the Queen of the Straight Line, she's the Queen of Everything. She is the Queen of Architecture. Her ethos and methodologies of architecture are still inspiring generations to come.
"I think Zaha wanted her legacy to be beyond buildings, beyond concrete and steel. Zaha's mission, and I think dream, in this life was to give us a message: think big and think beyond the present and have your foot on the ground, but your eyes always for the future."

Nada Taryam -- director of civil and architectural projects at Bee'ah

"Zaha definitely opened the doors for young, female architects in the Middle East. She was struggling with getting projects built, and then finally she made it out there and became one of the most famous architects around the world.
"It's a very inspiring story for all of us and makes us believe that we should push and work hard to prove ourselves."
Bee'ah is an environmental management company based in the United Arab Emirates.
How one woman pushed an industry forward

Nesmah Mansoor -- Yemeni architecture student based in Aden

"We (have) had war, electricity blackouts. Thousands of students (have) never studied under regular circumstances.
"Zaha gave me hope because (she) did not get anything easy. Zaha went through hardships. Zaha went through the process where everyone was underestimating her for being a woman, for being Arab.
"I'm living in a country where women are always underestimated. When I am always asked: 'Why did you major in engineering? It's a man's major.' I feel related (to Zaha) because I feel we are somehow going through the same process of pain and underestimation. Zaha did not give up and she became the person she was. She inspires me to never give up and always have hope."
zaha hadid architecture block b IME_00011812
Nesmah Mansoor, Yemeni architecture student inspired by Zaha Hadid.

Eva Jiricna -- Czech-born architect and friend of Zaha Hadid

"Zaha hated the term 'female architect,' and to be called the 'best female architect.' She just thought it was extraordinary ... and she was right.
"She totally believed that female students were very often better than male students and she did not hesitate to say so. She definitely offered working opportunities to more women than anybody else of a practice of her size."
How Zaha Hadid reshaped architecture

Riyad Joucka -- Jordanian-Canadian architect

"I think that she is a role model and she will continue to be a role model for female architects in the world (as well as) male architects.
"I had been very motivated to pursue innovative architecture because Zaha's work showcased that anything is possible.
"I always look back at how Zaha's career was in its early stages and that gives me absolute hope, and her legacy lives on to give me the light of hope."
Joucka is founder of the Middle East Architecture Network and Laboratory.