Zaha Hadid is having a very good year. Last October she was named the Stirling Prize winner for her design of the Maxxi Art Centre in Rome. And two weeks ago, she won again, this time for the Evelyn Grace Academy in London. Not bad for an architect whose buildings were once dismissed as the work of a fantasist. In fact, some of her earlier works won competitions, most notably The Cardiff Bay Opera House, but were never built. Some said that her designs worked better in theory than in practice. Others speculated that race or gender might have been factors in the decision not to build. However, Hadid said, "...I decided not to meow about it and just carry on."
Born in Iraq and living in London since 1971, she studied under Rem Koolhaas who once described her as " a planet in her own orbit." She was the first female architect to win the prestigious Pritzker Prize in 2004. And now, she appears to have come full circle and is designing the new headquarters for the central bank in Iraq.
The Evelyn Grace Academy was created to house four separate schools in Brixton. The identity of each school remains unique, but the shared spaces, including a vibrant red track that literally runs right through the academy, connect each school to the others.
Hadid's designs do have a reputation for focussing on spectacle rather than on function. Some of them are, indeed, spectacular. Below is the railway station in Innsbruck she designed.
These days she also designs what look to be very uncomfortable furniture, cars and shoes.
Toronto Public Library owns several titles on Hadid's work. Here is a sampling: