Would they call me a diva if I were a guy?

Marina Mrdjen Petrovic photo crop

Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid passed away suddenly at the end of March 2016, leaving behind a legacy of revolutionary buildings, products, interiors and furniture. CID asked Cristiano Luchetti, assistant professor, College of Architecture, Art and Design at the American University of Sharjah, to offer his personal thoughts on what she meant to the profession.

“More than writing about the spatial quality of her specific buildings, I am interested in trying to understand the contribution that she made to architecture as a tool for the transformation of our built environment,” writes Luchetti.

zaha hadid


With 36 projects remaining in 21 countries, we will witness her latest visions as they have been brought to life, including some in this region such as the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre in Riyadh, Al Wakrah Stadium in Qatar and Bee’ah’s new headquarters in Sharjah.

Throughout Hadid’s career, the media frequently highlighted her gender, referring to her as the greatest female architect, acknowledging that she was the first woman to win both the Pritzker Architecture Prize and the 2016 Royal Institute of British Architects Royal Gold Medal.

But commenting on this, Hadid once asked: “Would they call me a diva if I were a guy?”

In The Guardian, Eva Jiricna, a former president of the Architectural Association in London and a close friend of Hadid commented: “If we can eliminate the practice of talking about ‘female’ architects, it would be the greatest tribute we could give her.”

In such a male-dominated field, Hadid was appreciated and deeply respected “as an architect of immense stature and global significance”, as Lord Norman Foster referred to her as he spoke in admiration about their friendship.

Being one of the leading figures in modern architecture, Hadid has inevitably been an inspiration for many women, especially in the Arab world.

She explained in an interview with CNN four years ago: “I used to not like being called a ‘woman architect': I’m an architect, not just a woman architect. Guys used to tap me on the head and say, ‘You are okay for a girl’. But I see the incredible amount of need from other women for reassurance that it could be done, so I don’t mind that at all.”

This entry was posted in Voices. Bookmark the permalink.

Add a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *