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Much has been written about Zaha Hadid, the Baghdad-born architect with her reputation for being fierce, uncompromising and abrasive. I am told some architects will decide after only ten minutes that they could never work together with her. However, I’m not an architect and, perhaps if I were, I should feel differently. Because I am pretty sure that Hadid is a genius.

Hadid is the first female architect of global standing. Had she not been so utterly uncompromising, so tough and high-handed, it seems improbable that she could ever have become so influential and started building all over the world. Hadid for the first time received great international recognition in 1983, when she was awarded the first prize in the competition for “The Peak” in Hong Kong. Her first major project to be realised was the Vitra Fire Station, which was completed in 1993.

In the field of architectural experimentation, Zaha Hadid has been a persistent radical for the last twenty years – a visionary, who breaks with conventional forms of building in an uncompromising way. Furthermore the significance of her contribution to present-day architecture can be deduced from a series of buildings which are as ground breaking as they are influential.

Since the year 2000 Zaha Hadid has held the chair for Architectural Design at the Vienna University of Applied Arts. The exhibition currently held in the Vienna Museum of Applied Arts (MAK) features her most recent projects in Europe, North America, and Asia. The wide range of work on display includes a large-scale urban plan; proposals for international design competitions; building designs for contemporary cultural facilities; sports facilities; documentation of current projects under construction; as well as completed buildings and installations.

However, the very focus of the current Zaha Hadid show is on her spatial experiment “Ice-Storm”, which has been developed specifically for the Vienna MAK. With 300 square metres, eight tons and seven metres in height, this ‘interior landscape’ occupies the central exhibition hall. As a result, visitors are drawn by the radical experience of space offered by Hadidユs unique architectural approach into an exhibition which presents a comprehensive overview of the oeuvre of the architect. Running from May 14 to August 17 this solo exhibition constitutes a highlight of the MAK’s 2003 exhibition calendar with its architectural focus.

Models, paintings, renderings, animations, and large-format photographs of buildings and projects both realised and still under construction provide a profound insight into Zaha Hadid’s design practice in all phases of their development. In addition, the exhibition also brings together a large number of medium and large format works into an “archive” of “major paintings” – some of which are being shown for the first time.

Zaha Hadid Exhibition
Date: May 14th – August 17th 2003
Place : MAK Exhibition Hall
Address : Weiskirchnerstrasse 3, 1010 Vienna, Austria

Text: Christina Merl Photos: Zugmann from MAK

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