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Hadid lays foundation for first London building

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Zaha Hadid has been given her first opportunity to build in London by winning the competition to design a new home for the Architecture Foundation.

In one of the most talked about architectural competitions of the past few years, the Pritzker Prize winner fought off stiff opposition from seven of the hottest international talents, including Bernard Tschumi, MVDRV, Foreign Office Architects and Caruso St John.

The foundation received about 200 entries from more than 20 countries when the contest to design the new £2.25 million centre was launched in September.

Only a stone's throw from the Globe Theatre and Tate Modern on the South Bank, the centre in Southwark will be the first new cultural building commissioned in central London since the British Library.

Hadid's winning design incorporates a large exhibition space, first-floor offices and a bar which overlooks the glazed entrance.

A cantilevered top floor will have 'spaces of various scales allowing for a variety of uses, such as multimedia exhibitions or talks and debates'.

Described as a 'simple yet robust structure', it is hoped the centre will become a place where the public can 'engage with the best of contemporary architecture'.

The scheme was officially announced as the winner last night by judges Nicholas Serota of the Tate and the Architecture Foundation's Rowan Moore.

A public exhibition displaying all eight of the competition's shortlisted schemes is currently being held at The Ragged School, 47 Union Street, London SE1 until 23 January.

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