Dame Zaha Hadid was a trailblazer in the world of art and design. She reimagined abstraction, curvature and played with lines in her designs. Although she was a starchitect, in many ways she was also an innovative fine artist who just happened to use structures in a landscape as her canvas and paint. She changed the way we look at space, not only in a physical sense but also in a social and cultural sense.

One of her greatest projects, the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku, is a 619,000-square-foot building complex that contains exhibition spaces, a library, a museum and concert venues. The design seems like a kind of new Baroque, a more vibrant and engaging type of architecture. "This was an incredibly ambitious project and for me," Hadid said. "It was always my dream to design and build the theoretical project and that was the closest thing to achieving that."

The building is unique and looks like something from the future. The lines are soft, romantic and fluid. It is set in a public plaza, and the building rises in one continuous wave-like fold or shell. The entire shell is made of a steel space frame and glass-fibre-reinforced concrete panels, which conceal the vertical supports within the walls. The walls of the Center have been designed to be both aesthetically pleasing and scientific.

Heydar Aliyev Center
photo by iwan baan

Heydar Aliyev Center
photo by iwan baan

During the day, reflected light constantly changes the appearance of the building. Light from the interior comes over the outer surfaces creating an incredible spectacle. The utilization of light gives the structure the aesthetic of an art piece.

Malevich's Tektinik by Zaha Hadid

Peak painting by Zaha Hadid

The World by Zaha Hadid

In the book Zaha Hadid + Suprematism, Zaha becomes an artist. Her book begins with an explosion of creativity, which happened while she studied in London. The paintings in the book show the works of Zaha, reflecting on her research and works that challenges established conventions.

The exhibition’s curator, Kenny Schachters, describes Hadid’s worldview as "art, design, and architecture collaps(ing) into one another to reflect a long way of life characterised by pushing and pulling the boundaries of aesthetics in every conceivable manner and form. What is so inspiring and intriguing about the astounding output of Zaha Hadid, is the imaginative, inventive and unquenchable expression of curiosity and creativity. Hadid defies pigeonholing in a world increasingly defined by uniformity."

Zaha's book illustrates her excellence as a painter and also as an avant-garde architect at the top of her game.

Zaha Hadid through her revolutionary designs bridged the gap that separates an artist from a designer.

- Chentian Lu -


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