Congratulations are in order for Zaha Hadid, for she is to be awarded the 2016 Royal Gold Medal.
The first woman to earn the honour, the prestigious prize is awarded by the Royal Institute of British Architects and personally approved by Her Majesty the Queen. Awarded since 1848, previous recipients include Frank Gehry (2000), Norman Foster (1983), Frank Lloyd Wright (1941) and Sir George Gilbert Scott (1859).
Like her predecessors, Hadid shares ‘the precious role of towering, distinctive and relentless influence upon all around her that sets the results apart from the norm’, explains Professor Sir Peter Cook, 2004 recipient of the Royal Gold Medal and selection committee member.
To say Hadid’s work ‘stands out’ is an epic understatement at worst and gross misconception at best. Fluidity, biology, avant-garde, mould-breaking, futuristic, daring – and expensive – are all terms that make perfect sense when describing her work. Building impressive structures from the Swiss Alps to UAE, the ‘Zaha’ brand has been showered with accolades and medals, twice receiving the RIBA Stirling Prize – for the MAXXI museum in Rome and the Evelyn Grace academy school in Brixton – and she was the first woman to be awarded the Pritzker prize more than a decade ago.
Hadid has a penchant for lattice-like forms, complex curves and seamless structural shapes that seem to have been developed in a scientific laboratory light years away. Indeed, she was once described by her mentor Rem Koolhaas as ‘a planet in her own inimitable orbit.’ Her personality and character without a doubt match the complexity of her buildings, but perhaps it is that defiance which has led her to such greatness.
‘Let’s face it, we might have awarded the medal to a worthy, comfortable character,’ says Professor Sir Peter Cook. ‘We didn’t, we awarded it to Zaha: larger than life, bold as brass and certainly on the case. Our heroine. How lucky we are to have her in London.’