Monthly Archives: August 2013

Zaha Hadid

Do we need a new vocabulary to do justice to Zaha Hadid?

Last week saw the Imagine programme with appearances from the lady, her business partner Patrick Schumacher and Alan Yentob wandering through many of her great and not so great works across the globe. If this is architecture then we need to reconsider what is involved in the “discipline”. Does the computer generating forms to order qualify? Is there a place for the economical use of space and materials?

Unsurprisingly the commentators and fellow architects and teachers were all expressing their approval of the work. There is no doubt that the Peak would have been extraordinary, the Phaeno Science Centre at Wolfsberg amazing and the Cardiff Opera House was one of the missed opportunities of all time.  But I came away with Piers Gough’s Frank Gehry quote as summing up the whole design conundrum of her work. Flat piece of something $1, single curve $2, double curve $10. With enough budget extraordinary things are possible, but they are generated by what? And they are constructed using vast quantities of steel, designed by the 3D capability of computers operated by exceptional engineers like Hanif Kara.

The Festival Hall is over 50 years old, St Paul’s Cathedral over 400 years, the Pantheon 2,000 years…. Will the “organic, rolling, slipping and sliding” cultural centre in Baku be the ultimate Zaha experience?

Alan Yentob sums it up as “…one of the most remarkable structures I have ever seen” Give it a few more years Alan.