Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Guest post: Zaha Hadid's architectural wonders

An inveterate risk-taker, Hadid has been called "the least boring person in her field." K.M. Mulder takes us through a collection documenting her work to date.
In 1988, MoMA’s influential, theory-busting exhibit on “Deconstructivist” architecture included several architects who hadn’t actually built anything at the time, such as Daniel Libeskind. One woman made the cut. The recognition was merely one of many firsts for Iraqi-born Zaha Hadid—also the first woman and the first Muslim to win the Nobel equivalent of architecture, the Pritzker Prize, in 2004.
"Vitra Fire Station," a painting by Zaha Hadid
Beko Building, Belgrade
Galaxy, Soho
In this Guggenheim exhibit catalog on Hadid, hundreds of reproductions and sleekly photographed buildings printed on matte black, accordion-folded pages capture Hadid’s penchant for elasticity and the “Z-shape,” whether poured into cement walls and ramps for the Phaeno Science Center (1999-2005), or injection-molded into a sofa system for B&B Italia. Hadid also experimented with gallery space as Gesamtkunstwerk [arts synthesis] in at least 30 exhibit designs, according to essay contributor and curator Monica Ramirez-Montagut, at prestigious venues like the Venice Bienale or in more modest, localized settings. Her Guggenheim collaboration in 1992 resulted in “The Great Utopia,” the largest exhibition in that institution’s history. Fittingly, the catalog pays homage to Hadid’s ‘total design’ abilities, featuring the entire sweep of her personal and corporate firm’s output in paintings, drawings, furniture, exhibit designs, digital competition renderings and a three-wheeled concept car as well as more than 120 building complexes, additions or renovations.
If you know your Russian Suprematists, like Malevich, and your Russian Constructivists, like El Lissitzky, Hadid’s tectonic artworks model a similarly futuristic and dynamic energy. If you don’t, essays by the erudite Italian critic Germano Celant, New York Times architecture critic Joseph Giovanni, the architect/historian Detlef Mertin, and Hadid’s business partner Patrik Schumacher may fill in some of the gaps. If the jargon occasionally interrupts your understanding of a key contributor in the postmodern era, let the images of Hadid’s fluid achievements complete the process, and know that her generous interdisciplinary approach presages the design of the future.
This guest post was brought to you K. L. Mulder, "a committed multi-disciplinarian recovering from specialties in art and architectural history." 
This video talk is long but fascinating, with many more examples in detail. Scroll in ~10 minutes and it starts to get really good.

12 comments:

  1. I would love to visit the Beko Building in Belgrade! It almost seems like you could slide down the sides of the building, but I would assume that is frowned upon. I really like how the curve of each floor allows for a lot of greenery to grow on each terrace. Amazing!

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  2. Premier venue for a skateboarding Olympics! Nice to see a woman succeeding in a male-dominated profession--architecture.

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  3. WILHELM THADDEUS FINKJanuary 15, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    Ha, Molly! I was thinking the same thing:) Though I'm accident-prone, I couldn't resist. Her work is phenomenal and it's inspiring to see how much harder she had to work to be on top. Kudos!

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    1. FYI, the Vitra Fire Station drawing represents one of Hadid's first actual constructions, and this is often the building shown in architectural survey books to represent her. The first American building is the Contemporary Museum of Art in Cincinnati...Hadid's work actually developed along two main streams--the more angular approach, and eventually (when it could be built) the curvaceous and Z-shaped buildings.

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  4. Wow wow wubsy! The Beko building doesn't even look real! I'm impressed and amazed.

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  5. I added a video so you all could see more cool stuff.

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  6. That picture of the Beko Building is a painting, correct? After looking at it in higher resolution, it doesn't look like a photograph. I'd better stop looking at it, I'm getting vertigo!!!! :-P

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    1. "Artist's rendering", I think. Look at the buildings in the background--like sugar cubes!

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    2. Definitely a computer rendering, probably from one of the Hadid firm's competition or brainstorming series--you can always tell if the angle of viewing is extremely high, as it is in the Beko view. KLM

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  7. I read up a bit on Zaha Hadid, I had no idea she designed the London Aquatics Centre for 2012 Summer Olympics.

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    1. Her firm has been building everywhere. One of the compelling factoids about Hadid's career is how she had a decade of mainly conceptual and exhibition work, and this has blossomed in subsequent decades into incredible projects--huge, ambitious, curvalicious! Go, Zaha!

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