Behind the Inspirations of Zaha Hadid's Imagined Utopia

Grand Buildings Trafalgar Square - 1985

Grand Buildings Trafalgar Square - 1985

Walking into the Zaha Hadid x Serpentine Galleries exhibition "There Should Be No End to Experimentation" in Hong Kong, it gives you a certain sense of calmness. It’s a calmness that derives from the art of architecture. But what makes Zaha Hadid a name for the whole world to remember, is the almost abstract utopia vision of hers with regards to human living environment. For those who are not familiar with architecture, many think it’s just lines and calculations. But the incredible paintings, calligraphies and drawings from the late visionary shown conveyed a very different message to us, that any successful architect is also a true master in art, philosophy and ideologies.

'Metropolis', 1988; © Zaha Hadid Foundation

'Metropolis', 1988; © Zaha Hadid Foundation

Hadid’s drawing is almost like an ephemeral imagined future, where space and time is compressed into 3D sketches. Influenced strongly by Malevich, Tatlin and Rodchenko, she used calligraphic drawings as the main method for visualizing her architectural ideas. It is so rare to see art being so closely combined with design, technology, geography and the idea of the world we live in, and this is one of Hadid’s great legacies, among all the breath-taking structures around the world that continue to impress our souls and aesthetics boundaries.

‘Vision for Madrid’, Spain, 1992; © Zaha Hadid Foundation

‘Vision for Madrid’, Spain, 1992; © Zaha Hadid Foundation

For her, painting was a design tool, and abstraction an investigative structure for imagining architecture and its relationship to the world we live in. Her works on paper and canvas unravel an architecture that Hadid was determined to realize in built structures that was later seen in the characteristic lightness and weightlessness of her buildings. Like birds, like feathers, like everything unimagined.

Left to Right:  Confetti ‘The Peak’, Hong Kong, China 1982/1983; The Peak Series, 1983; Hafenstrasse Development; Hafenstrasse Development, Hamburg, Germany, 1989; Malevich’s Tektonik, 1976-7 © Zaha Hadid Foundation

Left to Right: 

Confetti ‘The Peak’, Hong Kong, China 1982/1983; The Peak Series, 1983; Hafenstrasse Development; Hafenstrasse Development, Hamburg, Germany, 1989; Malevich’s Tektonik, 1976-7

© Zaha Hadid Foundation

Hadid and Hong Kong has had an intimate relationship. In 1982, Hadid was awarded first prize in a design competition for a leisure club in the wealthy peak of Hong Kong, which marked a critical moment in her career. Although this structure was never built, it still remains a major piece in her painting collection and her projects.

We ended up staring at the video slideshow showcasing all of Hadid's current or in-progress projects for not even sure how long. Everybody in awe, in silence, with only quiet small talks praising which ones of the buildings they have seen or love. With the reference of her paintings, it connects us so much closer to her heart, to her vision of imagination of that utopia world, where humans, communities, societies, nature, earth and cities are ultimately all tied together harmoniously, so loud of a statement, but so quiet and natural.