This Architect Just Became The First Woman In 167 Years To Win The Royal Gold Medal

Her name is Zaha Hadid and she has erected buildings across 44 countries.

Cover image via Visual News

Who is this architect?

Her name is Zaha Hadid and she has erected buildings across 44 countries.

Born in Baghdad in 1950, Ms. Hadid was raised in one of Baghdad's first Bauhaus-inspired houses. She came of age in an era when the Middle East was enchanted by Modernity: its glamorous forms, progressive aura and faith in the future.

Early on, she soaked up the cosmopolitan values that bound cities as diverse as London, New York, Moscow, Beirut and Berlin. In the mid-1970's, she settled in London, where she cut her teeth as a student at the Architectural Association, then a center of experimentation.

The Iraqi-born London-based architect has earned a place as one of the most sought-after architects in the world, having bestowed her trademark blobs on cityscapes from Baku to Guangzhou.

She has been described the "most precocious talent in her profession" by the NYT.

Image via The Guardian

What is the award for?

Called the Royal Gold Medal for architecture, it is awarded annually by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), personally approved by the Queen, in recognition of an individual's or group's lifetime of work.

Zaha is the first woman without a male partner to win the award in its 167-year history.

Below are some of Zaha's award-winning works.

Opera House, Guangzhou

Image via BBC
Image via BBC

The building was inspired by the River Pearl which it overlooks.

Aquatics Centre, London

Image via BBC
Image via London Town

It was designed for the London 2012 Olympic Games and the roof resembles a wave, dipping higher and lower above the racing pool and diving pit.

Apart from daringly experimental buildings, she has designed:

...a handbag for Fendi, vases for Lalique, and a perfume bottle for Donna Karan, as well as the obligatory luxury yacht – and even a raunchy range of swimwear, leading to rumours she was starting her own fashion label.

Last year she unveiled her own lifestyle collection at Harrods, featuring scented candles, sinuous cups and a set of acrylic serving platters for £9,999.

She was made a dame in 2012 and has won numerous awards

She has twice won the Riba Stirling Prize, the UK's most prestigious architecture award. In 2010 she won for the Maxxi Museum in Rome, winning again in 2011 for the Evelyn Grace Academy in Brixton.

In 2004 she became the first woman to be awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Last year the Heydar Aliyev Centre, which she designed in Baku, Azerbaijan, won the Design Museum Design of the Year Award. She was also the first woman to win the top prize in that competition.

The Heydar Aliyev Centre features Hadid's signature curves and undulations.

Image via BBC

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