Zaha Hadid has been awarded Britain’s Royal Gold Medal, becoming the first individual woman to win the award.
The Iraqi-born British designer was presented the medal by the Royal Institute of British Architects after her selection was personally approved by Queen Elizabeth II.
“I am very proud to be awarded the Royal Gold Medal, in particular, to be the first woman to receive the honour in her own right,” Hadid said.
“We now see more established female architects all the time. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Sometimes the challenges are immense. There has been tremendous change over recent years and we will continue this progress.”
Hadid whose works include the Guangzhou Opera House in China and the London Aquatics Centre, joins Frank Gehry, Norman Foster and Frank Lloyd Wright in receiving the medal, which has been awarded since 1848 to groups or individuals who have had a strong influence “either directly or indirectly on the advancement of architecture”.
Fellow architect Peter Cook, a founder of avant-garde group Archigram which won the award in 2002, praised Hadid as he presented the medal.
“Let’s face it, we might have awarded the medal to a worthy, comfortable character. We didn’t, we awarded it to Zaha: larger than life, bold as brass and certainly on the case,” Cook said.
“Our heroine. How lucky we are to have her in London.”
Hadid was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 2012 in recognition of her work in architecture. An exhibition of her design work is currently on show at the Leila Heller Gallery in Dubai.