Malevich’s Tektonik

London, United Kingdom

Malevich’s Tektonik (1976-1977) was Zaha Hadid’s fourth year project that she produced while a student at the Architectural Association (AA) in London, UK. There, she studied with Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), who she would go on to work with. Their AA Unit 9, taught later by Hadid herself, engaged with unfinished utopian modernism, particularly that of the Russian avant-garde, including the ‘arkhitektons’ of Kazimir Malevich – abstract, sculptural forms that he thought could be the basis for architecture.  

In Malevich’s Tektonik, Hadid used the form of his ‘Alpha’ arkhitekton to create a fourteen-storey horizontal skyscraper, inventively fulfilling the course programme to design a hotel and club on the Hungerford Bridge over the River Thames. Hadid’s design connected the brutalist post-war architecture of the South Bank with the nineteenth century North Bank, offering a radical intervention into the existing site. She came up with the terminology of ‘tic-tic’ to account for the way in which Malevich’s seemingly random arkhitekton was able to respond to the dynamism of the urban context. 

The painting for Malevich’s Tektonik makes use of abstraction and multiple perspectives found in modernist painting, setting a precedent for their use that would continue throughout her career. In the presentation title page, collage elements recall the medium’s prevalence in Russian constructivist avant-garde art and design from the interwar period, which Hadid would have also been aware of through her studies at the AA.