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Zaha Hadid

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Women in practice profile: principal, Zaha Hadid Architects

WHY YOU BECAME AN ARCHITECT I was perhaps six years old and my aunt was building a house in Mosul in the north of Iraq. The architect was a close friend of my father’s and he used to come to our house with drawings and models. I think it triggered something

FIRST PROJECT The competion for the Irish prime minister’s residence in Dublin in 1979-80

BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION When a man in any profession expresses his opinion, he’s described as ‘opinionated’, but when a woman voices her opinion, she’s considered ‘difficult’

ADVICE TO ASPIRING FEMALE ARCHITECTS It’s important to keep focused to achieve in any profession – but also to make time for your friends and family

HOW TO MAKE IT WORK Learning to trust other people to work on your vision is crucial. You must learn early on that you can’t do everything yourself; you also have to rely on other people’s strengths and abilities. I’ve always believed in teamwork, and that’s why things are manageable

CURRENT CHALLENGE There are still some worlds women have no access to. But I don’t believe that much remains of the stereotype that architecture should be a male rather than a female career. Roughly half of first-year architectural students are women, so they certainly don’t perceive this career as alien to their gender. In our office we have no stereotypical categories that relate to gender at all

ON SEXISM You see more established, respected female architects all the time. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Sometimes the difficulties are incomprehensible. But in the last 15 years there’s been tremendous change, and now it’s seen as normal to have women in this profession. In practice, I still experience resistance, but I think that keeps me focused. Perhaps it was my flamboyance rather than being a woman that gave me such determination to succeed, but I have always been extremely determined. Now I’ve achieved success, and I am extremely grateful, but it’s been, and still is, a very long struggle. It’s not as if everybody says ‘yes’ to me. It’s not always great, but it keeps you in place, and it also makes you think and do things in a different way

BEST DEFENCE AGAINST SEXISM I believe in hard work; it gives you a layer of confidence

INSPIRATION Alison Smithson, Lina Bo Bardi

Place of study Architectural Association
Current projects CMA CGM head office, France; Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center, Azerbaijan; Pierre Vives Archive and City Administration Building, France; Next Gene Architecture Museum, Taiwan; The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, East Lansing; Salerno maritime terminal, Italy; Galaxy Soho, China; Dongdaemun World Design Park & Plaza, Korea; library and learning centre, Austria; City Life Tower and masterplan, Italy; Jesolo Magica, Italy; One-North Masterplan, Singapore; Napoli-Afragola high speed train station, Italy; Chennai Tech Park, India; Innovation Tower, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, China; Opus Office Tower, UAE; Issam Fares Institute, The American University of Beirut, Lebanon; Kartal Pendik masterplan, Turkey; Zorrozaurre masterplan, Spain; new EuskoTren headquarters and urban planning, Spain; Atelier Notify, France; Capital Hill Residence, Russia; Olabeaga masterplan, Spain; Eleftheria Square, Cyprus, Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Centre, UAE
Clients City of Glasgow, Soho China, CapitaLand Singapore, Chanel, City of Guangzhou, City of Seoul, Italian Ministry of Culture, Italian Ministry of Transport, Michigan State University, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Maggie’s Centres, Expo Zaragoza, City of Innsbruck, BMW, Louis Vuitton, Neil Barrett, City of Wolfsburg, Danish Ministry of Culture, Vitra, CMA CGM, ODA
Featured project CMA CGM Tower, France
Client CMA CGM
Completed March 2012
Budget Undisclosed

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