Zaha Hadid’s Ingenious Designs

Wednesday, May 23, 2018 | By | Add a Comment



Zaha Hadid’s Ingenious Designs

Zaha Hadid was one of the most brilliant minds in architectural design.  Her work has been classified as Deconstructivism which is visually characterized as chaotic and unpredictable structures, often using non-rectilinear shapes which appear to distort and dislocate elements of the architecture.  Known as “the Queen of the Curve”, her work was described as having the highly expressive, sweeping fluid forms of multiple perspective points and fragmented geometry that evoke the chaos and flux of modern life.  Although she was often praised as the world’s top female architect, her work also attracted criticism.  She was among a group of architects who rejected their styles and classifications, as well as not ever coming to a worldly understandable, relative, conformed and unified definition over their own “different” designs of their own minds creation.  From being labeled as “making Doric temple forms out of plywood” to “unconventional buildings that seem to defy the logic of construction”, the unanimous verdict of critics is that Deconstructivism is a purely formal exercise with little social significance.  And yes, unfortunately for the Deconstructivists, I am one of THOSE critics that oppose you.  And why would I or anybody in their rightful mind side with different ideologies and a movement or style that is not in the mind or the time of anybody else’s except the creator’s, and therefore is different and not sane?  And yet, as we have seen with many despised reigning movements in the past several decades, the term had stuck and has come to embrace a general trend within contemporary architecture.  Ironically, it seems that the general consensus of everyone, including architects which once had been Deconstructivism’s ardent adherents are saying to shield their ridiculous embarrassment from the opposing masses, “We didn’t do it because we liked it.  We did it because we hated it.”  And of course, that’s all you need to say….and of course, it worked.

So, why would I, who stands with the opposing team, write a blog about Zaha Hadid and her Ingenious Designs?  Well, for one, I do like concrete, and concrete structures, and for some absurd reason, I think they are fun and urban.  And urban to me means culture and a sense of hope and public belonging.  This is unfortunately the reality that we live in, where we have to do with the nothing that we are given in life.  And in the irony of it all, these empirical things that are necessary evils are something to see and wander around in.  And some of the sights are nice too!  And so, I am going to give Zaha credit for actually creating some interesting, chaotic, unstable architecture that now disgusts people.  And many of her designs take up huge amounts of land too!  I just wish her and other Deconstructivist structures had more surprises for a style of architecture that rejects the past and presents no clear values as replacements and which often pursues strategies that are intentionally aggressive to human senses.  But who knows, maybe one day when the world is filled up with these “We didn’t do because we liked it.  We did it because we hated it” structures, there will be change along the lines of “We didn’t do it because we hated it.  We did it because we REALLY liked it.”, or “We didn’t do it because we liked it.  We did it because we REALLY hated it.”  Of course, what is REALLY liked or REALLY hated is still up to the discretion of the creator of a necessary style of architecture that may be more or less along the lines of something that rejects the past and presents no clear values as replacements and which often pursues strategies that are intentionally aggressive to human senses and more.

With that said, I would like to discuss Zaha Hadid’s Issam Fares Institute Building at the American University at Beirut.  The Issam Fares Institute for public policy and international affairs’ (IFI), designed by Zaha Hadid architects, was completed at the American University of Beirut as part of an on-going campus redevelopment.  Begun in 2006 and completed in 2014, Hadid’s award-winning concrete and glass building makes a bold statement with its prominent 21-meter, two-story-tall cantilever, which creates a covered courtyard and reduces the footprint of the building to avoid blocking circulation routes.  The elevated walkways carry pedestrians through the branches of huge Cypress and Ficus trees, many of which significantly predate the building at 120 to 180 years old the facility immediately serves the school’s students and administrators, but on a larger scale is a hub for local, regional, and international academics, researchers, and politicians.  The IFI comprises a rigorous educational program that the design of this building seeks to facilitate.  It aims to harness, develop, and initiate research of the Arab world, in order to enhance and broaden debate on public policy and international relations.  This is a new set of photographs by Lebanese architectural photographer Bahaa Ghoussainy which show the building in active use, pairing daytime scenes of visitors relaxing on benches or walking across pathways with dramatic evening views that highlight the glowing slanted windows.  In all of the photos, the exaggerated diagonal elements of Hadid’s design give the building a feeling of motion, as if Ghoussainy captured a glimpse of it speeding through the frame.  The landscaped surroundings contrast the neutral concrete of the building’s elevations with splashes of green, further highlighting the singular design.  With its monumental form, swept diagonal lines and elevated concrete walkways, the Issam Fares Institute building at the American University of Beirut by Zaha Hadid Architects emphasizes movement, evoking the speed of contemporary life as it presides over a connecting system of pedestrian walkways.


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