Architect Spotlight: Zaha Hadid

One of Britain’s most famous architects, Zaha Hadid was known as ‘the Queen of the Curve’

Article By: Francesca Burke
Last Update: July 2019

Early Life

Zaha Hadid was born in Bagdhad, Iraq, in 1950. She received an education at boarding schools in Switzerland and England, then studied maths at the American University of Beirut. In 1972 Hadid moved to London to study at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, then worked in the Netherlands.

Zaha Hadid black and white photograph

Zaha Hadid Architects

Hadid founded Zaha Hadid Architects in 1980. She spent several years teaching architecture while designing buildings that, although bold and fairly radical, were often too expensive to build. Gradually, during the 1990s, Hadid’s designs gained notoriety and she was commissioned to design several buildings, including the Bergisel Ski Jump in Austria and Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Centre in America.

Bergisel Ski Jump from the ground

It was during the 2000s that Hadid’s work really took off. She designed the Guangzhou Opera House in China, the spectacular Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu-Dhabi and the London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympics.

Hadid’s architectural style is quite hard to describe, as she did not follow any traditional styles. She stated that ‘the idea is not to have any 90-degree angles,’ which we think sums up her work quite well! It’s not hard to understand how she earned the nickname ‘Queen of the Curve’…

Sheikh Zayed Bridge, Abu-Dhabi at sunset, from coastline


In 2004 Hadid became the first female recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize and won the Stirling Prize (Britain’s most prestigious architecture prize) in 2010 and 2011. She became a Dame in 2012.

London Aquatics centre from the outside

Death and Legacy

Hadid died of a heart attack in March 2016 while being treated for bronchitis. Many of her projects were completed posthumously, while Zaha Hadid Architects has continued under the directorship of architect Charles Walker and continues to work on internationally-renown buildings.

Related Articles

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.