How Zaha Hadid changed how we Design Space

“Hadid has changed the way we see and experience space.”

Ada Louise Huxtable, Architecture Critic

How before Hadid arrived at the Architectural Association buildings and places were designed like this

Boxes sliced up in orthogonal plan and elevation

Indeed for her Mentor at the AA Rem Koolhaus it was quite literally chopping up space in orthogonal cubes of polystyrene – the foundational principle of his practice OMA

Zaha changed all that.  Frustrated at the narrow mathematical range of her teachers, and inspired by her mathematical training in Beirut she set up her own AA studio in an Abandoned Covent Garden Warehouse and invited expert designers and specialists to explore how new forms might be possible.

What resulted was Parametricism – where the CAD section is just one slice of a infinite mathematical description of space.  The term coined by Hadid’s protogee and employee Patrick Schumacher.

Richard Adam argued that Hadis break from the orthagonal box was not architecture just sculpture.


Gallery Image

Now it is may be the case that – according to her naysayers – that curves for curves sake may result in driving fireman mad, too much steel, too expensive and hard to construct buildings etc.  But the same was said of those who accused her may nearly 15 years of being a ‘paper architect’ whose buildings could never be built.  In 2016/2017 there are likely to be more physical major Hadid buildings than from any other architect – then tragically no more ever.

So where next for the curve?  the style is best for feature buildings that are star buildings, it is hard to make a whole city of such unless you take a parametric approach across wide areas – as Schumacher has done

But this to me seems forced.  The line of sight – the pedestrian to eye to vista – works always in straight lines – and economically the best way to support any weight in space is to stack a structure directly and orthogonally underneath it or in a symmetrical structure such as an arch.  That said Hadid opened our eyes to how the natural beauty and structural strength of parametric curved sections found in nature – and which we are biologically attuned to see as beautiful,






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