Monday, August 29, 2011

Zaha Hadid: Part IV

Growth, Organization and Entropy in Organic Processes 

The fourth part in an extended series of entries about the architect, this entry will also lead toward application of the above subtitle to human cultural processes as I play with metamodernism.  In particular I will discuss Zaha Hadid’s plans for the Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Center, part of the 270 Hectacre cultural district of Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi in relation to growth, organization and entropy in both organic and cultural processes.


The Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Center

The structure of the Performing Arts Center creates its own dichotomy because it is based on botanical imagery, a curvilinear crystalline metal and glass structure that is alien to thousands of years of architectural history.  I don’t want the reader to take that as a negative, instead it should be understood as uncomplicated observation.  Let me explain - if anywhere in the Western world you ask a 5-year old child to draw a house, you obtain the following image.

The pentagonal structure made up of a triangle-topped square is almost architectonic in that it is permanently constructed in each and every mind.  The entire history of architecture in the West is based almost completely on rectangular and triangular structures – until now.  Hadid’s work is not the only work that occupies this organic free form and/or abstract shape territory.  There is a list of architects whose works in part can be described as “blobitecture.”  Still others, like Frank Gehry, whose structures look as though the rectangle and triangle have been folded through a many layered but curved 4th dimension.  However, Hadid’s smoothly extruded curved forms are the only ones that appear to be based purely in botanical processes.  The Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Center specifically appears to be based on a vine or tree with leafing branches that reach for the sparkle of reflected light from the water surrounding Saadiyat Island.  The contrast between traditional structures and these botanically based constructs is so startling as to seem alien when first encountered, belying the appearance that the metallic and glass behemoths grow from a seed beneath the earth’s crust.

I’ve incorporated and documented a few images in this blog entry, but there is such a plethora of these Web images and text about them that it might behoove the reader to do some exploring of his/her own in order to discover the complexity of the design and its roots in growth, organization and entropy.



To be Continued


Hadid, Zaha, with Introduction by Aaron Betsky.  New York: Rizzoli, 2009.

Hadid, Zaha, Zaha Hadid Architects. at  Viewed 10:35 AM, EDT, Sunday, August 28, 2011.

Zaha Hadid, Google  at  Viewed 10:39 AM  EDT, Sunday, August 28, 2011.

* “Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Center by Zaha Hadid,” in Archinomy:  Bridging the Gap, at  Viewed 10:31 EDT, Sunday, August, 28, 2011. It is known that the use of images for one time scholarly purposes is legal under United States Copyright law.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Zaha Hadid: Part III

Cairo Expo (2009- ) Zaha Hadid *

The Cairo Expo City, construction begun in 2009, looks like an illustration from a 1950’s science fiction pulp magazine cover, or a Surreal painting by artist Yves Tanguy. The buildings appear to grow out of the earth’s bedrock as though carved by flowing water over eons, establishing a presence that is the opposite of many of Hadid’s designs which as I’ve said seem to inhabit a fluctuating time/space. It is understood that this geologic contiguity is related to the manner in which the Nile flows through the surrounding countryside. Never the less, as always the fantasy element is present.

Cairo Expo, Serpentine Walkways (2009- ) Zaha Hadid *

Cairo Expo, Interior View (2009- ) Zaha Hadid *

As part of the program carved arteries work through the serpentine structures dividing the complex into individual though related sections of clustered buildings for conference, exhibition, shopping, and office space. Flowing through the center, a main stream gathers curvilinear tributaries from each of the complex subdivisions. The two office towers (30 and 31 stories) are contained within the flowing structures, and relate to the entire program because of their elongated and extremely subtle curves and bulbous bases.

The entire set of structures is so contained by the organic water carved land metaphor as to seem a more permanent part of this land than are the great pyramids themselves. Thus, they are a piece of the incredibly long history of Egypt, and I hope their construction has not been interrupted by the current instability of the region.


*images from archdaily at Viewed Thursday, August 18, 2011. It is understood that one time use of images for intellectual purpose is acceptable under U.S. copyright law.

Hadid, Zaha, "Zaha Hadid," in Wikipedia, , Last modified August 8, 2011, viewed 9:21 AM EDT, August 16, 3011.

Hadid Zaha, Zaha Hadid Architects,, viewed 10:00 A.M., EDT, Tuesday, August 23, 2011.

Horsley, Carter B>, "Zaha Hadid: Queen of energetic, explosive works of varied perspectives," at the Gugggenheim Museum, June 3 to October 25, 2006. Viewed 10:12 A.M., Tuesday, August 23, 2011.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Zaha Hadid: Part II

Zaha Hadid, Antwerp Port Authority, to be finished 2013

Born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1950 the Architect has often been called the Diva of Architecture, a title she takes issue with, saying, and I’m paraphrasing “If I were an excellent but stubborn and aggressive male architect I would not be called a Diva.”

An interesting aside, my goddaughter is a world-class executive chef and freely admits to also being a “DIVA.” I say why not – if you are especially good at what you do, understand just how good you are, and push hard to be successful in your career – you should accept the title "DIVA" as an accolade.

Zaha Hadid’s life is summarized in several sources on the Web, and I’ve detailed these in my notes. Instead of spending time writing about her life, I would rather write about her curvilinear creations. As stated in my last journal entry, it is as though her buildings have suddenly appeared in our time/space continuum from another dimension. They interrupt our architectural history, seeming to hover around and among the structures in their urban environment including historic structures, modernist shoeboxes and the postmodern deconstructed structures of modernism and their disjointed mixture with historic artifice. They refuse to be viewed from any one direction, forcing us to walk around and through them, walls, ceilings, and floors sometimes morphing into one another, as though oscillating in and out of our current time/space frame. They reflect our disjointed and conflicted contemporary culture much as Mannerist art and architecture reflected the conflicted post Renaissance in Italy and surrounding European nations, a time when the Catholic Popes had overstepped the bounds of their worldly power, and suffered the consequences.

view of bridge and port with Port Authority Headquarters

Let’s examine several examples of these Twenty-first Century Mannerist masterpieces. First, The new Antwerp Port Authority headquarters in Belgium, slated to be completed in 2013. The design incorporates an existing historic firehouse with a new structure designed to bring 500 employees together from various buildings. This combination of the past with the new is a trope that has been used over and over again since the Postmodern and it has saved many an historic structure from being raised. However in Hadid’s hands, the design interrupts our standard conception of how the old and the new might be incorporated into one seamless program. Instead of joining the buildings, the new crystalline structure in the shape of a powerboat hull (the reference is obvious enough) hovers above the existing firehouse, transformed into something that looks like a light-filled flying wedge. Refusing to be philosophical about the integration of the two structures, Hadid said, “…the dichotomy between the reflective, faceted form of the new extension and the powerful structural mass of the existing fire station creates a bold and enigmatic statement for the city.” “Enigmatic, “ indeed! Her choice of words leaves the question of how this oppositional structure exists - within the frame of the city and port in which it is located, with the symbolic port suspension bridge behind allowing the new building to literally and figuratively hover - in and among our discordant ideas about city and port as congested difficult places of refuge. Also, how fitting the port bridge is behind since the port authority is the bridge that controls the flow of traffic between locations and conflicted cultures.

Three quarter view of Antwerp Port Authority with bridge

To be continued.


Hadid, Zaha, "Zaha Hadid," in Wikipedia, , Last modified August 8, 2011, viewed 9:21 AM EDT, August 16, 3011.

* “antwerp port authority headquarters by zaha Hadid architects,” in designboom,, copyrighted 2000-2010. Viewed 10:00 A.M., EDT, Sunday, August 14, 2011. It is thought that one time use of copyright material for intellectual purposes is within legal parameters of United States copyright law.

Antwerp Port Authority Headquarters by Zaha Hadid, in the Contemporist, Posted January 21, 2009, viewed, 9:00 AM. EDT, Tuesday, August 16, 2011.

Antwerp Port Authority Headquarters/Zaha Hadid, in eVolo, Posted October 11, 2010, viewed 9:10 AM. EDT, Tuesday, August 16, 2011.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Zaha Hadid

Help! It's an Inter-Dimensional Space Alien Invasion of the Twenty-first Century!


“Really, John – You’ve gone too far!” says the alter ego.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, London, temporary instalation (July 12 -21, 2007) Zaha Hadid *

As some would have it, Hadid’s architecture skips over the Postmodern to a redefined more radical Modernism that more accurately defines contemporary Twenty-first Century culture. Instead, I would say that a rejection of the jaded Postmodern deconstruction of Modernism and reevaluation of the past implies the understanding of its presence. That is not to say that the rejection is not part of Hadid’s oeuvre, only that contemporary culture is more complex than most of us know. As with much of the most inventive “Metamodern” architecture Hadid’s buildings seem to be an invasion of their surroundings, as though something foreign to our history has materialized from another dimension. For instance, the organic form of the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London looks like a giant conch-like apparition, alien to the park and rectangular urban architecture that surrounds it. At the same time, the temporary nature of the installation creates a "here today gone today" ironic response in this author. Never the less, the pavilion is one of the many curvilinear buildings proliferating the major urban centers of our world. And, there in lies a clue as to the location of this type of Twenty-first century architecture. Many of the major building projects worldwide are based in curved form that can only exist as a result of contemporary computer driven technology. Hadid’s architecture is part of a radicalized global architecture driven by bizarre and/or organic geometry that steers a course through the ubiquitous oppositional confusion of contemporary world culture(s).

More about Zaha Hadid and her buildings in my next entry.


* IT, The Terror From Beyond Space! (1958) United Artists, from the Website Posteropolis, Viewed 11:00 PM EDT, Wednesday, August 10, 2011. It is thought that one time use of copyright material for intellectual purpose is within the limits of United States copyright law.

* Hadid, Zaha, Serpentine Gallery pavillion, London, in "Marcelo Zefarin's Blog,", Viewed 10:30 AM, EDT, August 10, 2011. It is thought that one time use of copyright material for intellectual purpose is within the limits of United States copyright law.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Flat Water on the Beach Behind Seminole Golf Club

Looking through old photos, I came across this image from 2006. It isn’t one of the most beautiful or unusual photos I’ve ever taken. However, it does show the Atlantic Ocean on a calm day with a slight land breeze. When that happens the ocean turns into a big lake with small waves, sometimes no waves at all. On this particular day, the water was also at its most transparent turquoise and teal, a crystal gem gracing mother earth’s breast. Locals call these conditions, “flat water.” I’ve often wondered what evangelicals mean when they say they talk to God, because I can’t. Never the less, on a day with flat water I can sit on the rocks of the ancient reef, gaze into that smooth crystal-clear void and allow myself to be swallowed up by the universe.