ZAHA HA­DID

Force of na­ture

Prestige Indonesia - Lifestyle - - CONTENTS -

At 65, ZAHA ha­did is at the peak of her cre­ativ­ity. Close to 1,000 of the ar­chi­tect’s works can be seen across the globe, from Bri­tain to Cam­bo­dia. The first woman to win the pres­ti­gious Pritzker Ar­chi­tec­ture Prize gave Nina Hi­dayat an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view

When it comes to “star­chi­tect” Zaha ha­did, there is al­ways some­thing to talk about. Per­haps the most im­pres­sive of ha­did’s cre­ations to open in 2014 was the Lon­don Aquat­ics cen­tre. in the words of The Guardian, it is “the most jaw-drop­ping mu­nic­i­pal swim­ming pool in the world”. An­other high­light is the sleuk Rith in­sti­tute in Ph­nom Penh, cam­bo­dia. the no­table memo­rial com­plex pays homage to the two mil­lion cam­bo­dian lives lost un­der the regime of Kh­mer Rouge. ha­did says it is “a fo­cus for re­flec­tion, heal­ing and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion as well as an en­light­en­ing ed­u­ca­tional fa­cil­ity ded­i­cated to com­mem­o­rat­ing the lives of the past by build­ing a bet­ter fu­ture”.

Un­con­ven­tional projects have in­deed be­come syn­ony­mous with ha­did, whose Lon­don-based firm Zaha ha­did Ar­chi­tects has 950 projects in 44 coun­tries and em­ploys more than 400 staff. her ne­o­fu­tur­is­tic build­ings are noted for their fluid lines, earn­ing her the moniker “queen of the curve”. ha­did’s most con­tro­ver­sial cur­rent project is the tokyo 2020 olympic sta­dium. Lo­cated in the outer gar­dens of the his­toric meiji shrine, the sta­dium will boast a ca­pac­ity of 80,000 spec­ta­tors. her de­trac­tors have de­scribed her de­sign as re­sem­bling a tur­tle.

Al­ways a fear­less fig­ure, the grad­u­ate of the Ar­chi­tec­tural As­so­ci­a­tion (con­sid­ered the har­vard of ar­chi­tec­ture schools) has an un­usual his­tory. Born in Bagh­dad, iraq, she has called Lon­don home for over 30 years. she was the first woman to win the Pritzker Ar­chi­tec­ture Prize, known as the “no­bel Prize of ar­chi­tec­ture”, in 2004. Time in­cluded her in its 100 most in­flu­en­tial Peo­ple in the World list in 2010. An­other Pritzker win­ner, Frank Gehry, re­gards her as “an ex­tra­or­di­nary force of na­ture”, while fash­ion de­signer Donna Karan has praised her as some­one with a “god­dess’s touch”.

Pres­tige picked ha­did’s brain on 21st-cen­tury build­ings, how she feels about be­ing called a “star­chi­tect” and why re­tire­ment is not an op­tion for now. high­lights:

YOUR SIG­NA­TURE DE­SIGN AES­THETIC IS TERMED “NE­O­FU­TUR­IS­TIC”. WHAT WAS THE IDEA BE­HIND THIS?

Ar­chi­tec­ture does not fol­low fash­ion or eco­nomic cy­cles – it fol­lows the cy­cles of in­no­va­tion gen­er­ated by so­cial and tech­no­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ments. i think build­ings must change with new pat­terns of life to meet in­creas­ing de­mands of their users. i be­lieve what is new in our gen­er­a­tion is the much greater lev­els of com­plex­ity and con­nec­tiv­ity. With over half of the world’s grow­ing pop­u­la­tion now liv­ing in cities - and this fig­ure in­creas­ing ev­ery day - con­tem­po­rary ur­ban­ism and ar­chi­tec­ture must move be­yond the 20th cen­tury ar­chi­tec­ture of repet­i­tive square blocks, to­wards ar­chi­tec­ture for the 21st cen­tury that ad­dresses the com­plex­i­ties, dy­namism and den­si­ties of our lives to­day. my am­bi­tion has al­ways been to cre­ate fluid spa­ces. We like to work with flu­id­ity be­cause we be­lieve it vis­ually sim­pli­fies ev­ery­thing, and you can then cope with more com­plex­ity in a build­ing with­out crowd­ing or clut­ter­ing the vis­ual scene. Peo­ple do ask: why are there no straight lines, no 90 de­grees in your work? this is be­cause life is not made in a grid. if you think of a nat­u­ral land­scape, it’s not even and regular – but peo­ple go to these places and think it’s very nat­u­ral, very re­lax­ing. i think that one can do that in ar­chi­tec­ture too.

AS AN IRAQI-BRITISH AR­CHI­TECT, HOW DOES YOUR MIXED CUL­TURAL BACK­GROUND IN­FLU­ENCE YOUR DE­SIGN AES­THETIC?

i think the ide­ol­ogy of my up­bring­ing has been crit­i­cal to my work. i was born in Bagh­dad and as in so many places in the de­vel­op­ing world at the time; where there was an un­bro­ken be­lief in progress and a great sense of op­ti­mism. iraq was a new repub­lic and it was a mo­ment of na­tion build­ing, not only in the Arab world, but also across south Amer­ica and Asia. in the 1950s and 60s, there was an in­cred­i­ble mo­ment of so­cial re­form

“Peo­ple do ask: Why are there no straight lines, no 90 de­grees in your work? This is be­cause life is not made in a grid”

ev­ery­where. these ideas of change, lib­er­a­tion, and free­dom were crit­i­cal to my devel­op­ment.

i should say that, yes, i am an Arab, but i was not brought up in a tra­di­tional Arab way. i’m iraqi, i live in Lon­don. i don’t re­ally have a par­tic­u­lar place and from my per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence, it is a very lib­er­at­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to be to­tally dis­placed.

WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL BE SOME OF THE BIG­GEST TRENDS IN DE­SIGN AND AR­CHI­TEC­TURE IN 2015?

over the com­ing years, the huge ad­vances in de­sign tech­nol­ogy will en­able ar­chi­tects to com­pletely re­think form and space, us­ing new con­struc­tion meth­ods and ma­te­ri­als in devel­op­ment. Ar­chi­tects are also us­ing new con­cepts and meth­ods to cre­ate build­ings that re­spond to in­di­vid­ual liv­ing pat­terns and adapt to the needs of their in­hab­i­tants by op­ti­mis­ing the en­vi­ron­ment to suit the needs of their users at any given mo­ment, en­abling the ar­chi­tec­ture it­self to re­spond to daily us­age pat­terns and chang­ing weather con­di­tions.

Ar­chi­tec­ture can also as­sist in re­or­gan­is­ing liv­ing pro­cesses in a mean­ing­ful way so that ev­ery­one can con­trib­ute to a more eco­log­i­cally sus­tain­able society. Like many ar­chi­tects, we are im­ple­ment­ing so­phis­ti­cated ven­ti­la­tion and build­ing man­age­ment sys­tems in our projects to im­prove the eco­log­i­cal bal­ance of a build­ing. how­ever, we are also re­search­ing new ma­te­ri­als and con­struc­tion meth­ods that bring sig­nif­i­cant en­vi­ron­men­tal benefits. As these dif­fer­ent clus­ters of devel­op­ment - sus­tain­abil­ity and the ap­pli­ca­bil­ity of the ma­te­ri­als - come to­gether, we are be­gin­ning to find sig­nif­i­cant so­lu­tions to the eco­log­i­cal chal­lenges that are the defin­ing ques­tions of our gen­er­a­tion.

For in­stance, 3D print­ing is en­ter­ing the con­struc­tion in­dus­try and open­ing many ex­cit­ing new pos­si­bil­i­ties. it of­fers re­mark­able ad­vances and is much more sus­tain­able as there is no wastage in con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als. With 3D print­ing, the com­plex­ity of a build­ing will no longer be re­strained by the need for sim­pli­fi­ca­tion or de­sign ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion, for ex­am­ple the cost of a wall will be de­fined by its vol­ume and weight and not its shape, mak­ing a curved wall no more ex­pen­sive to build than a straight wall.

IF YOU COULD DE­SIGN ANY BUILD­ING IN ANY PARTS OF THE WORLD, WITH­OUT ANY BUD­GET CON­STRAINT, WHAT WOULD YOU BUILD AND WHERE?

Ul­ti­mately, ar­chi­tec­ture is all about well-be­ing, the creation of pleas­ant and stim­u­lat­ing set­tings for all as­pects of life. We work so hard to build projects that give up­lift­ing ex­pe­ri­ences that in­spire peo­ple each day. i think most build­ings de­serve to be in­ter­est­ing and part of an ar­chi­tect’s job is to make peo­ple

feel good in the spa­ces where we live, go to school and where we re­ceive health­care. hav­ing a com­fort­able home is such a cru­cial is­sue, not only in terms of a shel­ter and the ba­sics – but also for well­be­ing, for a bet­ter life. there’s enough to­tal wealth to­day that ev­ery­one should have a good home and ac­cess to good schools and hos­pi­tals. in many coun­tries around the world, these vi­tal pub­lic build­ings have al­ways been based on the con­cept of min­i­mal ex­is­tence – but that shouldn’t be the case to­day. Ar­chi­tects now have the skills and tools to ad­dress these crit­i­cal is­sues, and many com­mu­ni­ties around the world are com­mit­ted to re­solv­ing them.

ZAHA HA­DID IS NO LONGER “JUST” AN AR­CHI­TECT, BUT A BRAND. HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE SUCH AN ICONIC FIG­URE ACROSS MUL­TI­PLE DIS­CI­PLINES?

in terms of forms, all our projects – ar­chi­tec­ture, fash­ion, fur­ni­ture and prod­uct de­sign - in­ter­est me equally, and all of the de­signs orig­i­nate from sim­i­lar prin­ci­ples. All the projects are con­nected some­how. the big dif­fer­ence is in the process of re­solv­ing and re­al­is­ing each de­sign.

ON THE FLIP­SIDE OF BE­ING SUCH A RENOWNED FIG­URE ( A “STAR­CHI­TECT”, SOME WOULD SAY), HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH CRIT­I­CISM?

Ar­chi­tec­ture is ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive, and you can’t win ev­ery de­sign com­pe­ti­tion you en­ter. in 1994, we en­tered the com­pe­ti­tion for an opera house in cardiff, Wales. We sub­mit­ted it, we got a call an­nounc­ing we won it, and then there was an in­cred­i­ble ju­bi­la­tion in our of­fice, which

turned to great sad­ness when the project was can­celled. it dev­as­tated us, and i had to pick up the pieces. in that pe­riod, we en­tered one com­pe­ti­tion af­ter the other, and we didn’t win any. there were mo­ments when i felt ex­tremely down, but my de­pres­sion never last very long. i am fun­da­men­tally an op­ti­mist, and i al­ways be­lieve in my work and i know i would even­tu­ally come out of any dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion. At the end of the day, all the knowl­edge gained from our un­re­alised projects was nec­es­sary to de­velop our skills.

YOU HAVE ALSO LAUNCHED A HOME­WARE LINE FOR HAR­RODS. WHAT’S THE CREATIVE PROCESS BE­HIND IT LIKE, AS COM­PARED TO DE­SIGN­ING BUILD­INGS?

the col­lec­tion at har­rods fea­tures gift items and home ac­ces­sories that have been de­signed us­ing state of the art tech­niques and crafted by ar­ti­sans from across europe. De­sign­ing prod­ucts is of great im­por­tance to us. Def­i­nitely, one of the most ex­cit­ing things about prod­uct de­sign is the ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy used for de­sign and man­u­fac­ture, the pro­duc­tion process be­tween idea and re­sult is so much quicker than for ar­chi­tec­ture.

YOU WERE QUOTED SAY­ING TO BE “TOO BUSY, THERE’S NEVER THE TIME” TO BUILD A HOME. DO YOU HAVE ANY RE­TIRE­MENT PLAN AND IF SO, HOW WOULD YOUR RE­TIRE­MENT HOME LOOK AND FEEL LIKE?

I would love to build a house for my­self one day. nor­mally ar­chi­tects build houses for them­selves ei­ther early in their ca­reers, when they have fewer in­hi­bi­tions and can make mis­takes with­out be­ing judged too harshly, or when they’re about to re­tire – and i’m not ready to re­tire yet!

OPEN­ING SPREAD: HEY­DAR ALIYEV CEN­TRE IN BAKU, AZER­BAI­JAN; THIS PAGE: ZAHA HA­DID; OP­PO­SITE PAGE FROM TOP: HEY­DAR ALIYEV CEN­TRE EX­TE­RIOR, IN­TE­RIOR OF THE HEY­DAR ALIYEV CEN­TRE

SLEUK RITH IN­STUTE SOUTH FA­CADE AND MEMO­RIAL PARK IN CAM­BO­DIA

THIS PAGE FROM TOP LEFT: SLEUK RITH IN­STI­TUTE’S LI­BRARY, SLEUK RITH IN­STI­TUTE’S STU­DENT COURT­YARD; OP­PO­SITE PAGE: THE FOYER OF SLEUK RITH IN­STI­TUTE

THIS PAGE FROM TOP LEFT: DIV­ING BOARDS AT LON­DON AQUAT­ICS CEN­TRE, COM­PE­TI­TION POOL OF THE LON­DON AQUAT­ICS CEN­TRE; OP­PO­SITE PAGE FROM TOP: SER­PEN­TINE SACK­LER GALERY IN HYDE PARK, LON­DON, LO­CATED ON THE NORTH SIDE OF SER­PEN­TINE BRIDGE, IN­TE­RIOR OF THE SER­PEN­TINE SACK­LER GALERY, SERPETINE SACK­LER GALERY’S RESTAU­RANT

THIS PAGE: DONG­DAE­MUN DE­SIGN PLAZA IN SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA; OP­PO­SITE PAGE FROM LEFT: DONG­DAE­MUN DE­SIGN PLAZA’S IN­TE­RIOR WITH STREAMLIND LIGHT­ING, AN­OTHER IN­TE­RIOR OF THE DONG­DAE­MUN DE­SIGN PLAZA

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