Monday, October 22, 2012

CGAA Design: Zaha Hadid

Zaha Hadid

Known for her simplistic and modernist design aesthetic, Zaha Hadid has not only regenerated the boldness of British architecture but also left her mark as one of the most successful women in the world. Her designs go beyond the world that they inhabit, often extruded from bold intersecting lines which rise from her drawings into the world, overlapping and creating new forms within an old space. This is the key principle in Hadid's work, regenerating environments in a positive way. She firmly believes that design and architecture change lives, after all, these small worlds in which we live affect everything we do to an extraordinary degree.

"Buildings need to do another job, enlighten people, space enlightens the same way as music art and technology." [1]

Berlin, Germany - 2000 Masterplan

The commercial buildings that come from the studio of Hadid stand out among the norm of British architecture. But these final solutions are only a small aspect of the design process. Below are some design sketches generated for the famous Vitra Fire Station. These experiments fuse curves, lines and geometric blocks together in an attempt to find new forms.  From this seemingly abstract process is formed a unique and creative build. One which matches the lines of the street but isolates itself among the silhouettes of traditional surroundings. What may at first glance seem abstract from reality, is actually a conceptual mix of ideas and design.

"Conceived as the end-note to existing factory buildings, the Vitra Fire Station defines rather than occupies space - emerging as a linear, layered series of walls, between which program elements are contained - a representation of 'movement frozen' - an 'alert' structure, ready to explode into action at any moment." [2]

The process of design is equally applicable to the CG world. Generating concept art can be a daunting experience as one struggles to find a starting point. However, using such techniques will help tremendously. Hadid starts with a concept, an idea or a theme. She then explores with an approach, often abstract, to help keep the mind open and the possibilities fluid. As shown below, the JS Bach Chamber Music Hall was created from the concept of an intimate space. The design process expands from this single idea and becomes and elaborate mix of curves.

"A unique chamber music hall specially designed to house solo performances of J S Bach works - enhancing the multiplicity of his music by using a single, continuous ribbon of fabric which continuously changes, stretches, compressed and moves around itself to cocoon both performers and audience within an intimate fluid space." [3]

I have always loved Hadid's work, it has it's own personality and life that is lost in most modern architecture. Hadid creates work that is not to everyone's liking, but no matter what your opinion on the build itself, one has to admire her approach to design. A mix of philosophical concept, thematic notion and abstract design blend together to form ideas like no other. The perfect lesson to creating fresh designs from old ideas.

Further Reading and References
[1] Zaha Hadid  says austerity is not an excuse for low-quality housing.
[2] Vitra Fire Station
[3] JS Bach Chamber Music Hall
[4] Zaha Hadid Official Website -


  1. I think I'm starting to understand why so many architects end up in the field of CG and film making. So many of them seem to have a logic and understanding about the world that translates perfectly to imaginary worlds.