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A pioneer of radical deconstructivist architecture, Zaha Hadid’s legacy lives on in her critically acclaimed, spectacular, and effervescent works found throughout the world. Hadid is praised for her avant-garde creations, with beautiful and intuitive buildings constructed from concrete, steel, and glass.  

Born in 1950 in Iraq, Hadid is a mathematician who studied at the American University of Beirut. In 1972, she moved to London and attended the Architectural Association School. From there, she shared her knowledge and post-modernist techniques worldwide and taught at various institutions including Harvard, Yale, and Columbia. 

From daylighting techniques to biophilic design, Hadid’s creations demonstrate the unity between beauty and meaning, and continue to inspire the new generation of architects. Here we will explore some of her most famous creations and discover the knowledge Hadid shared with people everywhere for nearly 40 years.  


Hadid’s first major U.K. Commission, the Riverside Museum is a glass façade building created as an addition to the Glasgow Museum of Transport. The museum serves as a center of innovation and houses more than 3,000 exhibits that highlight Scottish transport and engineering, showcasing antique trains, automobiles, and more. The building reflects its location on the Clyde Waterfront, where its complex exterior geometries represent Glasgow’s engineering history. Hadid designed a zinc-clad roof in the shape of a Z, where paneled ridges zig zag and symbolize the relationship between the city and the waterfront. Moreover, with entrances at opposite ends, the museum has a tunnel-like form between the city and the River Clyde—thus not only representing fluidity, but also enabling fluidity in its connection between the land and water.

Photo Credit:


Designed to become the primary building of Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, the Heydar Aliyev Center represents a fluid form that reflects the landscape’s natural topography. Made of reinforced concrete and polyester, the building’s swooping structure stands in direct contrast with the rigid Soviet architecture that still remains throughout the capital. Its aqueous form encompasses the interior of the building as well, where Hadid worked her mastery of complex geometry by designing various cutout apertures and entrances, creating surfaces which transform walls into ceilings and so forth. The vividly white interior shines bright when the sun seeps in through semi-reflective glass, creating a seamless harmony between the interior and exterior of the building.

Photo Credit: ArchDaily


Inspired by water in motion and in harmony with the river landscape of Olympic Park, the London Aquatics Center is an undulating, wave-like roof that houses two 50-meter Olympic sized pools, a 25-meter diving pool, and more. World-renowned from the 2012 Summer Olympics, the London Aquatics Center hosts national and international events that build community locally and globally. The double-curvature geometry within creates an interconnected atmosphere and environment which reflects the purpose of the building: to swim. The entire center is constructed with over 600 panels of glass, allowing natural light to fill every crevice. Moreover, the Aquatics Center is an incredible feat in sustainability, with rainwater harvesting and other implemented green-conscious efforts.

Photo Credit: SKA Saffet Kaya Architects


Zaha Hadid saw architecture not as a personal claim in the world, but as an opportunity to discover future possibilities while honoring, and at times challenging, cultural foundations.  

Although her work was made from concrete and metal, she often implemented biophilic design, where she created buildings that would exist in harmony with the flow of the landscape. Her style was characterized by post-modernist and futuristic architecture techniques, such as curving facades and sharp angles. The use of white and grey in most of her designs called attention to the lines and edges of her work, stripping away any distractions from the architecture.  

Despite their dynamic structures, Hadid brilliantly mastered the ability to craft futuristic buildings while maintaining peak and intuitive functionality—creating masterpieces that facilitate community gatherings.  

Hadid also relied on the beauty of nature to emphasize her designs, such as using daylight techniques by featuring expansive glass panels and open ceilings to allow for natural light to flood in. She understood architecture as a single element within a whole landscape of design and within the entire landscape of culture. Her brilliance to use the environment—physical and social—enriched her work to create not only stunning buildings, but also everlasting places of community.  


Years after her passing, Hadid remains a visionary architect within the 21st century. In her lifetime she led over sixty major projects throughout her career, won numerous awards including the Stirling Prize, and was widely regarded to be the greatest female architect of her time.  

For more information about her life and work, visit  

"I don't think that architecture is only about shelter. It should be able to excite you, to calm you, to make you think."

Zaha Hadid

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