8 Groundbreaking Projects by Architect Zaha Hadid

As one of the most notable female architects in the world, Zaha Hadid is known for her futuristic designs. We gathered our top picks.

The architecture profession has long been dominated by male “starchitects” and public figures. Iraqi-born Zaha Hadid, however, managed to break through those barriers with a fresh and ahead-of-her-time approach. Known as the “queen of the curve,” Hadid’s projects were known for their unique and futuristic feel. Her architectural drawings would often include elements and approaches that weren't even possible at the time. She was so passionate about her ideas that she would wait until technology caught up with her.

Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Modern architecture at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza. Photo taken February 20, 2015 in Seoul, South Korea.

Photo by: Joshua Davenport/iStock

Joshua Davenport/iStock

In 2004, she was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Prize, the highest honor in the architecture field, honoring the achievements of her entire body of work.

On March 31, 2016, Hadid passed away at the age of 65, but her legacy continues to live through her innovative and transcendent buildings all over the world. Today, we're taking a look at her most ground-breaking projects:

Heydar Aliyev Centre
Baku, Azerbaijan

Photo by: Asuman Robson/iStock

Asuman Robson/iStock

The former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan held a competition in 2007 to choose the architect to design their capitol’s most important cultural structure and Hadid’s firm was awarded the commission. The fluid structure was designed to honor the optimism and hope that the nation wished to embrace after shedding the strict and orderly structure of their communist past.

The building has an auditorium for performances, a gallery hall and a museum. It plays an important role in the intellectual and cultural life of the city and its residents.

Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP)
Seoul, South Korea

Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Modern architecture at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza. Photo taken February 20, 2015 in Seoul, South Korea.

Photo by: Joshua Davenport/iStock

Joshua Davenport/iStock

Located in the cultural hub of Seoul, this project also displays the sweeping curves that Hadid favored in her projects. With DDP, she managed to create a structure that is completely modern and futuristic looking.

The building has become a bonafide landmark in Seoul and has helped to designate the city as a true fashion hub. As a convention hall with lecture space, exhibition space, retail shops and a walkable park on the roof, this project has become a major tourist destination in South Korea.

Library and Learning Center, University of Economics
Vienna, Austria

Photo by: RADU BERCAN/iStock


This building for the University of Economics has a lot of unique elements all working together, however, the most prominent is a large cantilevered structure that looks out across the school’s surrounding landscape.

The building serves as a hub for more than 24,000 students and 1,800 faculty members and includes the school’s main library, auditorium, public square, café, workspaces and offices. Hadid described the interior as "a free-form interior canyon."

Galaxy Soho
Beijing, China

Photo by: iStock


A giant office, retail and entertainment complex in Beijing was designed by Hadid to include four continuous flowing "volumes" linked by a series of stretched bridges. Each one creates its own unique internal courtyard, which is a key element of traditional Chinese architecture and cultural life.

The undulating building does not feature any corners and instead creates a completely seamless fluid structure, which has become a major landmark and source of pride for the nation of China.

Bergisel Ski Jump Tower
Innsbruck, Austria

Bergisel Ski Jump Tower

Bergisel Ski Jump Tower

The 2002 built Ski Jump Tower at Innsbruck, Austria

Photo by: Andreas Krappweis/iStock

Andreas Krappweis/iStock

A combination of a giant tower and bridge, this project was part of a historical refurbishment of the city’s Olympic Arena. At 164 feet high, the unique space includes sports facilities, a cafe and a viewing deck. Two elevators take visitors to the cafe at the stop of the structure, allowing you to watch the athletes below as well as take in the beautiful alpine landscape.

Maxxi Museo
Rome, Italy

Maxxi Museum in Rome

Maxxi Museum in Rome

ROME, ITALY - JUNE 24, 2014: The Maxxi museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo meaning National Museum of the 21st Century Arts is a national museum of contemporary art designed by British architect Zaha Hadid in 2010

Photo by: iStock


Taking more than 10 years to complete, this building is a unique combination of bending, oblong tubes. There are two main buildings: a museum of contemporary art and an architecture museum, however, there is also an auditorium, library, bookshop, cafe, bar/restaurant and a public square. Hadid described this project as a "campus for art" and not a simple "object container."

Guangzhou Opera House
Guangzhou, China

Guangzhou city night  landscape

Guangzhou city night landscape

Guangzhou city night landscape of modern China

Photo by: Pan Xunbin/iStock

Pan Xunbin/iStock

Beating out Rem Koolhaas in a design competition for this cultural center, Hadid’s “double pebble” structure was chosen as the winner and commissioned by the People’s Republic of China in 2002.

The freestanding 1,800-seat concrete theater is one of the three largest in all of China and cost approximately $200 million to build. The Guangzhou Opera House serves as an important cultural institution for China and even served as the inspiration behind one of Vivienne Tam’s fashion collections.

London Aquatics Centre
London, England

Aquatics Centre and Carpenters Estate, Stratford

Aquatics Centre and Carpenters Estate, Stratford

LONDON, UK - MARCH 19, 2016: View of the former Olympic venue now a public swimming pool and beyond, two blocks of flats on the Carpenters Estate in Newham, East London. The council hopes to knock down the flats.

Photo by: BasPhoto/iStock


As one of the main facilities featured in the 2012 Olympics, the London Aquatics Centre housed all of the swimming, diving and synchronized swimming events for the worldwide competition.

The concept for the structure was inspired by moving water and features Hadid’s now signature undulating lines and shapes. More than 600 panes of glass allow a ton of natural light into the facility, which features two Olympic-sized pools, a diving pool, gyms, a cafe and plenty of spectator seating.

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