The London-based, internationally renowned architect Zaha Hadid has become the first female recipient of the RIBA Royal Gold Medal, awarded annually to a professional in recognition of a lifetime's work.

Not that this is the only reason we admire Hadid – her dynamic work has been creating a stir in the world of architecture ever since she entered the scene, over 30 years ago. Her first widely acclaimed completed project was the Vitra Fire Station in Weil Am Rhein, Germany (1993) and she has subsequently produced highly praised work such as the Bergisel Ski Jump in Innsbruck (1999–2002) and the London Aquatics Centre, created for the 2012 Olympic Games. Her built work is evenly matched by her striking drawings and conceptual work.

The honour, is 'approved personally by Her Majesty The Queen' and is given to a person or group of people who have had a significant influence 'either directly or indirectly on the advancement of architecture', explains the RIBA. Hadid is in good company; Le Corbusier, Frank Gehry, Frank Lloyd Wright and Herzog and de Meuron are among the myriad distinguised names to have received the accolade over the years.

'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,' says Hadid. The Baghdad-born architect also spoke of the challenges faced by her practice. 

Working with her business partner Patrik Schumacher, Hadid is known for using cutting edge technologies and merging seamlessly furniture, building and landscape design to create masterpieces all over the world.