Reflections on the sudden death of Zaha Hadid

By Max Fordham

04 April 2016

I was very sorry to learn of the death of Zaha Hadid.

I first met her at the Architectural Association, and then again a year or two later when we were external examiners. In addition to giving the most acute comments to the students, she also cooked a wonderful eastern dinner for the examiners at her flat in Paddington. The delicious food was an eye-opener.

Later, her winning entry for the Cardiff Bay opera house raised unjust opposition. I couldn't help but wonder then that much of the criticism leveled at her was for being a woman and also an Iraqi. It was a view she shared. A small but vocal group of objectors managed to cancel the competition. This sort of thing has happened before and since, but it is a pity all the same.

For Zaha Hadid to triumph so completely over those difficult beginnings is an additional tribute to all her outstanding attributes. A list of them just goes on and on. We simply have to envy the people who were stimulated by her vision, and be thankful for the buildings we already have, and those in the pipeline.

Max Fordham


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