Founded by the iconic Zaha Hadid in 1980, Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) is one of the 21st century’s more celebrated and instantly recognisable practices in its field; its work often revered as shorthand for bold, pioneering design that defines the norms. International work, such as the Bergisel Ski Jump and the Phaeno Science Centre cemented the studio’s reputation as such; but it was later work, such as the London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympics and the Guangzhou Opera House, that catapulted ZHA to the next level and the global scene, with their radical and experimental design.

Now headed by practice principal Patrik Schumacher (following Hadid’s untimely passing in 2016), the firm remains as dynamic as ever. And as Schumacher explains, China plays a key role in its on-going success: ‘China allowed ZHA to take on big projects. China also values bold innovations. I still see China as the most promising arena for the next stage of our global expansion.’

People looking at the white architectural roof of Beijing Daxing Airport

ZHA, Beijing Daxing International Airport, 2014-2019. © Hufton + Crow 

The way cities develop in the Asian country is central to its role in the international architecture scene, he continues. ‘China continues to urbanise and indeed has entered a new phase of urbanisation that is more aligned with the recent experiences and values of European city denisification and regeneration, as China shifts its economic strategy from manufacturing to R&D and the knowledge economy. This new wave of China’s urbanisation is exciting and full of potential for ZHA. I think ZHA are ready to meet this challenge.’§

Close up of a circular shaped skyscraper
ZHA, Leeza SOHO, Beijing, China, 2015-2019. © Hufton + Crow
A portrait of Patrik Schumacher

Patrik Schumacher. Photography: Kim Mun