Architecture Archives of the Future Conference

On 22 November 2023, Catherine Howe and Jane Pavitt (ZHF) presented a paper on the interdisciplinarity and intersectionality of Zaha Hadid’s work at the annual conference of the Jaap Bakema Study Centre in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

The Jaap Bakema Study Centre is a collaborative project of the Nieuwe Instituut and the Faculty of Architecture of TU Delft. At this year’s conference, JBSC celebrated its 10th anniversary and the centennial of the National Collection of Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning. The conference delved into the intersections and evolving relationships between architectural practice, archival research and exhibition making.

Their paper explored Zaha’s commitment to the interdisciplinary nature of the arts as an architect, whose distinctive methods derived from painting and whose work as a designer was also extensive, and the intersectionality of her status as a woman of colour and an Iraqi-British immigrant. Despite her exceptional success as a woman architect, she faced many disadvantages throughout her career due to her unconventional approach and status as an Arab woman.

In particular, the paper reflected upon Zaha’s competition entry for the Cardiff Bay Opera House (1994-1995) in Wales, United Kingdom, alongside her earliest realised interior project Moonsoon (1989-1990) in Sapporo, Japan, to shed new light on the design methods employed in her studio, but also to reconstruct the circumstances of architectural competitions to understand how interdisciplinarity and intersectionality gave opportunity for both success and failure for her within two very different contexts, which, arguably, was what made her work so extraordinary.