Museum of the Nineteenth Century

London, United Kingdom

Museum of the Nineteenth Century (1977-1978) was a fifth-year student project of Zaha Hadid that she developed while studying Unit 9 at the Architectural Association (AA) in London, UK, led by Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). Her design for a mixed-use development included a museum, hotel, golf course, lake, health farm and night club.  

The project is exemplary of her burgeoning interest in utopian modernism and the complexity of the metropolis, particularly the latter’s cultural and historic context, and city congestion, which can be connected to Koolhaas’ book Delirious New York (1978). Museum of the Nineteenth Century, Axonometric (1978) shows the building’s various layered programmes in relation to the site at Charing Cross Station and the River Thames, as well as ideas of fragmentation and explosion prevalent in her early work. 

Hadid’s paintings became highly stylised at this point and central to her architectural designs. Axonometric is similar to work by the artists Madelon Vreisendorp and Zoe Zenghelis, who were also part of OMA, particularly in its use of pastel colours combined with precise architectural details. Hadid joined their office in 1978 and three paintings for Museum of the Nineteenth Century, including Axonometric, featured in their exhibition OMA: The Sparkling Metropolis, held at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, that same year.