Gong! It’s a Royal Gold Medal for Dame Zaha Hadid

London-based architect
The Baghdad-born, London-based architect Zaha Hadid has been awarded the RIBA 2016 Royal Gold Medal. Pictured: Dongdaemun Design Park & Plaza in Seoul, South Korea (2007–2013).
(Image credit: Virgile Bertrand)

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.

Heydar Aliyev Centre in Baku

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. Pictured: Heydar Aliyev Centre in Baku, Azerbaijan (2007–2012).

(Image credit: Hufton + Crow)

Phaeno Science Centre

Phaeno Science Centre in Wolfsburg, Germany (2000–2005).

(Image credit: Werner Huthmacher)

BMW Central Building

BMW Central Building in Leipzig, Germany (2001–2005).

(Image credit: Helen Binet)

MAXXI Museum

MAXXI Museum of XXI Century Art in Rome, Italy (1998–2009).

(Image credit: Richard Bryant)

London Aquatics Centre

'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. Pictured: London Aquatics Centre, built for the 2012 Olympic Games (2005–2011).

(Image credit: Hufton + Crow)

INFORMATION

For more information, visit Zaha Hadid’s website (opens in new tab)

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).