It’s with great sadness that I learned the passing of the wonderful Baghdad-born architect Zaha Hadid this week. Mrs. Hadid was one of my favorite architects, responsible for larger-than-life creations that are visually stunning and internationally renown. Tutored by Rem Koolhaas -another favorite architect of mine- in the 1970s, Hadid had since developed a style of her own, full of unusual shapes and curves, and often coined as “unbuildable”. Her works are now iconic, with designs as striking as they are beautiful.
I always seek out art in my travels, whether it be design spaces, art exhibits or architectural works. Zaha Hadid has played a huge part in my travel plans these past few years, as I’ve been wanting to visit her masterworks around the world. Apart from an artistic perspective, my fascination for architecture lies mostly on spaces, particularly ones designed expressly for art or design exhibits. My trip to Seoul in September 2014 was almost solely to spend time in the newly-opened Dongdaemun Design Plaza & Park, a Hadid creation finished just a few months before. To say it didn’t disappoint is an understatement.
Dongdaemun Design Plaza
The DDP in downtown Seoul was the highlight of my trip, and where I spent countless of hours roaming the premises, looking for angles to shoot and just mesmerized by the shapes and lines of the place. This 38 000 square-meter cultural complex was created to serve as a hub for art, design and technology, with several galleries, a design museum, a library, and an Education center laid out over 8 floors. The space has an extraordinary flow, the all-white finish of the spiraling corridors giving a sense of brightness, a slight incline of the serpentine floor layout dispensing certain areas of the need for stairs to go from one level to the other.
The outside of the DDP is even more impressive than the inside, with a completely alien feel to its curves, finishes and lighting. I felt like I was on the set of a sci-fi film, especially as day turned into night and the lights behind the 45 000 perforated aluminium panels lit up, creating a twinkling effect and dramatic shadows. This place at night is utterly extra-terrestrial and completely different compared to how it is during the day, as if it was two of the same.
The DDP was definitely one of the most fun, most impressive spaces I’ve ever had the pleasure of photographing, and I’ll soon be publishing a photo essay on the blog when I’m done sorting through the gazillion photos I took.
Zaha Hadid’s creations around the world
I’ve only seen a few of her works (the aforementioned DDP and the stunning Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi, recalling desert sand dunes), but I’ll hopefully be making my way soon to Azerbaijan to explore the breathtaking Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center in Baku. This stunning piece has been said to detach itself from the city’s rigid Soviet architectural landscape while putting an otherwise lesser-known destination into the spotlight. Some of her other major works I’m terribly eager to visit are the Guangzhou Opera House and the very instagrammable Galaxy Soho office building in Beijing, all shown below.
Hadid’s works, for me, have become destinations in themselves, as I’m sure many will agree with after seeing how awe-inspiring her creations are. Although I’m terribly saddened to know that she will no longer be designing her incredible buildings, at least I know that the ones she has had commissioned to her are here to stay and be marveled upon by all.
Have you visited or seen Zaha Hadid’s creations? What impression did they leave on you? Tell me in the comments below!
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