Former construction minister Nick Raynsford has demanded Zaha Hadid use her influence to improve site conditions in Qatar following revelations that hundreds of workers have died building World Cup projects in the Gulf state
Earlier this year Hadid, the architect behind the Qatar 2022 World Cup’s Al Wakrah stadium, told The Guardian: ‘I think that’s an issue the government – if there’s a problem – should pick up. … It’s not my duty as an architect to look at it.’
Speaking on Wednesday evening (23 July) at a debate at the University of Greenwich’s new school of architecture and construction, local MP Raynsford said he was ‘shocked’ by Hadid’s comments.
Responding to a question on the responsibility of architects within the construction industry, the Labour MP said: “Architects must work collectively for the best outcome.
‘I was shocked to read Zaha Hadid’s recent comments regarding the death of construction workers on World Cup projects in Qatar, where one of her designs is being built.’
Speaking after the event, Raynsford explained why he was angered by Hadid’s stance: ‘“If there is a problem” [she said]? There clearly is. There is evidence. Hundreds have died. It’s a crass position [for her] to take. As the architect she should be safeguarding her site, and the conditions under the worker toil.’
‘Reducing construction fatalities is everybody’s responsibility. Zaha Hadid could easily use her profile and exercise her influence to improve condition in Qatar.’
‘I am a great admirer of Hadid work. She is a great architect. Could she not have said to the Qatari government: ‘I designed the Aquatics Centre for the London Olympics without a single fatality. The whole London Olympic project was designed without a fatality. Why can’t you put similar measures in place to ensure the same outcome?’”
Raynsford was on a panel alongside alongside the building’s architects Rosin Heneghan and Shifu Peng and the university’s Hawksmoor Chair of Architecture and Landscape Neil Spiller.
Comment from Zaha Hadid Architects
‘Enabling works to prepare the Al Wakrah site began two months ago in May 2014. Construction to build the stadium will not start until 2015 after the contractor has been appointed. There have been no casualties on the site. The stadium is the first and only project by Zaha Hadid Architects on site in Qatar.
‘In February 2014, two months before the enabling works began at the Al Wakrah site, Zaha Hadid was asked about working conditions on projects built by other firms in Qatar over the previous two years outside the 2022 FIFA World Cup program. Zaha Hadid is unable discuss the practices and projects of other offices, but highlighted the role of statutory requirements for ensuring safe working conditions across all construction sites, and these requirements are now being implemented.
There have been no casualties on the site
‘AECOM with Zaha Hadid Architects are the design consultants for Al Wakrah Stadium. The welfare of all those who work on our projects is always of paramount importance to our organisations and we are working closely with our clients to safeguard workers’ welfare.
‘Through its commitment to its Workers Welfare Standards, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy is dedicated to protecting the welfare and dignity of the workers employed on 2022 FIFA World Cup projects and we continue to support their efforts.’