To A New Modernism
Zaha Hadid (Zaha Hadid Architects)


Zaha Hadid

©Monica Pidgeon

I always feel that it is important to explain really the origins of this work. When I won The Peak about five years ago, most people at that time thought that it just came out of nowhere. What I think is important for me to explain is how, in a way, for me this work was layered over the past ten to twelve years. This work began while I was still a student at the Architectural Association in 1975/6 when I was a student of Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis. The limit at that point was dealing with the fact that there were certain modern tendencies and traditions which have yet to be researched and investigated. And because the school was operating as a kind of laboratory for developing ideas and developing new ideas in architecture this work began. Also there was another kind of thing which was that a lot of people believed this work to be Constructivist or the Russian avant-garde and the Suprematists and I think that one has to explain why this connection occurred, and what was it about these previous architects and artists which we found interesting. For us the Russians, the reason they excited us in a way as a starting point was not the formal and painterly investigations but in terms of architecture the Russians at that point were really inventive in terms of program. Also, at that point, because it was a new kind of social order in Russia, it made it possible for certain new ideas and new programmes to take place. And one can use the argument that these things have not really occurred in Europe. But ten years ago, when there was a general economic depression in the West, the cultural background for this work was really right in the sense that one thought that one can actually inject certain ideas which might regenerate it or revitalise it. In a way there was a parallel between these two situations. The other thing which also was important is that the Modern project for us had not yet begun, and that for us to understand the value of this work in a Modern tradition, in a twentieth century tradition, it was important to look back at certain Modern work as a kind of background material for this one. For me it was really the development of all this work to date that can actually lead on to any new investigations.


Malevich Tectonic Designed As Hotel On Hungerford Bridge, London. 4th Year Student Project

©Zaha Hadid

While in my fourth year we were given a project which is a Malevich tectonic, which was a kind of architectonic model; and it was implied, through a slide by Malevich, that if this was to be inserted or imposed on an urban context it becomes an architecture. So it's no longer a sculpture but it becomes an architecture. And this was given to us and we had to find a scale for it, we had to give it a site and we had to invade by a programme invented by ourselves and written by ourselves. I just imposed a Malevich-tectonic on Hungerford Bridge in London and a series of layers horizontally which had to do with a very hedonistic kind of living and club facilities. The brief for The Peak, which was about five or six years later as a competition, was very similar to the program for the Malevich-tectonics. Anyway there were certain key people which one should refer to, apart from Malevich. It was also the notion of insertion of architecture and Suprematism into architecture, injection of Suprematism into architecture was very important. That was done by Leonidov and, to a lesser degree, by El Lissitzky. And I think that the implication of that was not only that things would begin to look fragmented or whatever, but that the plan, the new calligraphy of the plan began to be re-inscripted. And what was eventually, for me, was the most interesting of this work, the injection of Suprematism into architecture, the idea was to also liberate certain conditions of the ground or of the architecture whether it's in an urban context or not. So that this led to a series of investigations: first the notion of fragmentation within a certain condition, how can it differentiate between certain kind of invention of a new kind of public space or civic space, the differences between those and much calmer spaces, and this was manifested into dealing with various projects.

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