In celebration of Zaha Hadid’s 40-year career in architecture and design, philanthropic group Fondazione Berengo will host a retrospective exhibition of her work at the 16th century Palazzo Franchetti on the Grand Canal, Venice, coinciding with this year’s Venice Architectural Biennale.
It showcases many of the seminal paintings, drawings and models of Hadid’s repertoire, conveying the ingenuity and dynamism of her architectural projects in a variety of media including photography and film.
Through Hadid’s designs – built, under-construction, in development and unrealised – the exhibition displays the pioneering research and investigation that defines its work.
Included is a display devoted to The King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre (KAPSARC) in Riyadh which is a non-profit institution that brings together people from around the world to research and tackle energy challenges.
Due for completion in October, KAPSARC is built with sustainable construction methods and materials to LEED Platinum certification, and designed to work with its natural environment to ensure comfort for employees alongside minimising energy and resource consumption.
The exhibition explores how Hadid directly engaged with the Russian Avant-garde early in her career, exploring the compositional techniques of fragmentation, layering and porosity that characterise all her projects.
Early works displayed include Malevich’s Tektonic (1976-77), Hadid’s fourth-year project at the Architectural Association School in London. Also showcased are the competition winning Peak Club, Hong Kong (1982-83, unrealised); Hafenstrasse, Hamburg (1989, unrealised); Grand Buildings, Trafalgar Square, London (1985, unrealised); Victoria City master-plan for Berlin (1988, unrealised) and the Cardiff Bay Opera House (1994-95, unrealised).
Hadid previously discussed the Cardiff Bay Opera House project: “We won the competition, then they discarded the result and we had to repeat the competition, which we won again. But then they cancelled the project’s funding. It devastated us, and I had to pick up the pieces.
“Actually in that period in ‘95 to the late nineties, we did one competition after the other – and we didn’t win any. Perhaps there was a stigma against us – but they were all great designs; powerful projects and interesting in their complexity.
“They were all very tough and soft at the same time – elegant and resolved in terms of planning. Maybe now I would do them differently, but these unrealised projects were at the beginning of our research into that kind of work – and therefore, very important in the development of our repertoire which led to the remarkable projects we build today.”
Hadid described her design process, “My paintings really evolved thirty years ago because I thought the architectural drawings required a much greater degree of distortion and fragmentation to assist our research – but eventually it affected the work of course.
“In the early days of our office the method we used to construct a drawing or painting or model led to new, exciting discoveries. We sometimes did not know what the research would lead to – but we knew there would be something, and that all the experiments had to lead to perfecting the project. It might take 10 years for a 2D sketch to evolve into a workable space, and then into a realised building.”
Hadid said these are the journeys that she thinks are the most exciting, as they are not predictable
Other projects representing milestones in her career will also be presented in their own room.
Beginning with the Vitra Fire Station (completed 1993) in Weil am Rhein, Germany, her first completed project and followed by the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati (completed 2003), which contributed to Hadid being awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004.
Concluding the room’s projects is the MAXXI Museum of 21st Century Arts in Rome (completed 2009)
All the ZHA works in progress will be exhibited, including projects to be completed in the coming year.
The Port House in Antwerp will be inaugurated on 22 September. Its design preserves and repurposes an abandoned 95-year-old fire station into a new headquarters for the port.
The Mathematics Gallery at London’s Science Museum will open in December. A pioneering new gallery that explores how mathematicians, their tools and ideas have helped to shape the modern world. Also included in the exhibition are models, relief studies and visualisations of a residential building on the High Line in New York that will complete in early 2017.
Adriano Berengo, president of Fondazione Berengo said, “Visitors to the exhibition will have a greater understanding of Hadid’s pioneering vision that redefined architecture and design for the 21st century and captured imaginations across the globe. Although I work in the art world and Hadid’s excellence was architecture, her work is also imbued with art, that patina that makes everything eternal, including the creator herself.”