The Modernity Of Zaha Hadid - CORE

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View metadata, citation and similar papers at core.ac.ukbrought to you byCOREprovided by ScholarlyCommons@PennUniversity of PennsylvaniaScholarlyCommonsDepartmental Papers (Architecture)Department of Architecture1-1-2006The Modernity of Zaha HadidDetlef MertinsUniversity of Pennsylvania, mertins@design.upenn.eduFollow this and additional works at: http://repository.upenn.edu/arch papersPart of the Architecture CommonsRecommended CitationMertins, Detlef, "The Modernity of Zaha Hadid" (2006). Departmental Papers (Architecture). 8.http://repository.upenn.edu/arch papers/8Originally published in Zaha Hadid. Copyright 2006. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York.This paper is posted at ScholarlyCommons. http://repository.upenn.edu/arch papers/8For more information, please contact libraryrepository@pobox.upenn.edu.

The Modernity of Zaha HadidAbstractDuring the heyday of postmodernism in the 1980s, as architects turned to historical styles, urban traditions,and popular culture to rebuild the public support that modernism had lost, Zaha Hadid declared thatmodernity was an incomplete project that deserved to be continued. This was an inspiring message and itsbold vision was matched by projects such as the competition-winning design for The Peak in Hong Kong(1982-1983). Hadid's luminous paintings depicted the city and the hillside above it as a prismatic field inwhich buildings and landform were amalgamated into the same geological formation of shifting lines, vibrantplanes, and shimmering colors, at once tangible and intangible, infused with the transformative energy thatCubist, Futurist, and Expressionist landscapes had sought to capture.DisciplinesArchitectureCommentsOriginally published in Zaha Hadid. Copyright 2006. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York.This book chapter is available at ScholarlyCommons: http://repository.upenn.edu/arch papers/8

THE MODERNITY OF ZAHA HADID t lMertinsefDuring the heyday of postmodernism in the 1980s, asarchitectsturned to historicalstyles,urban traditions,andpopular culture to rebuild the public support that modhad lost, Zaha Hadid declared that modernity wasalready in 1913. launched a sustained but also diversefield of exper mentationinto new nonrepresentationalmodalities of artistic production,for which'Constructivism"has served as an umbrella concept.2 In the field of archi-soon emerge as Koolhaas and Zenghelis's most talentedstudent.'This project looked to Leonidov's proposal for aLinear infrastructural city of 1930 in attemptingto developan alternative to"the behavioralsinkof acity like London:'Sanproject that deserved to be continued. Thiswasan inspiringmessage,and its boldvision was matchedsuch as the competition-winning design forby h p a ngKong(1982-83).kinHadid's luminous paintingsdepicted thecity and the hillside above i t as a prisrnaticfield in which buildings and landform wereamalgamatedintothe amegeologicalformationof shiftinglines.vibrantp(anes,afld shimmeringcolors,atonce tangibleand intangible, infused with the transformative energythat Cubist, Futurist, and Expressionist landscapes hadsought to capture (Fig. 01).The figure of her building-ahotel-was barelydiscerniblewithin this field. ltwascomposedof three long prismatic bars-overlapping, rotating,and sliding above one another, as if detaching themselvesfrom the earth or,alternatively, landing from outer space,anchored by vertical staffs, hovering momentarily on terraces cut into the hillside.These images sent ripples ofexcitement through thearchitectural world,evidence thatmodernism was not a dirty word after all. It was alive,larger than life, and totally seductive.Hadid's was a different modernism than we hadbecome accustomed to, no Longer utilitarian, blandly corPorate, or aggrandizing of technology. Her vision of HongKongoffered a powerful wish image,at once futuristicandarchaic,geometricandgeomorphic. Hadid had tapped intothe Largely forgotten vein of Russian Constructivism andinfused its revolutionary heroics with cosmopolitanurbanit .Sherekindled the flame of modernity with thisnew Cocktailof desires.tecture, the term was initially associated with the Union ofContemporary Architects, including Moisei GinzburgandAlexanderVesnin, as well as others such as KonstantinMelnikov. During the late 1920s, a younger generationappeared on the scene, including Ivan Leonidov, whoseworkon new buildingand urban typesemployed thevisuallanguage of elemental geometry in a more extreme waythan architects had before. At the same time. YakovChernikov demonstrated through his teaching that anabstract,graphic(ratherthan painterly) languageof lines,planes,volumes, and color could be employed to generatean extraordinary diversity of things, from machines toengineering works, buildings, and cities. 3Though initiated prior to 1917, these lines of research inart and architecture became aligned with the RussianRevolution's radical politics and served as instruments forthe reorganization of lifeafter theoverthrow ofthetsar.Artwas enlisted to create festivals in the street, propagandaon railway cars, and didactic programming in theaters andSeeking to operate a t the scale of metropolitan reconstruction, the group turned to Constructivism to strike apath between the legacy of ClAM (Congres lnternationauxd'Architecture Moderne), on the one hand, and the morerecent artistic urban visions of Superstudio's ContinuousMonument (1969).Archizoom's Non-Stop City (1969-72),Archigram's Plug-In City (1962-64), Yona Friedman'sSpatial City (1958-59), and Constant's New Babylon(1956-). For Koolhaas, the work of Leonidov became astrategic ingredient in an explosive, ironic mixture thatalso included the raw vitality of the enclave-city of WestBerlin, fantasies of decadence in early twentieth-centuryManhattan. Surrealist juxtapositions of incongruous fragments,and the typological delirium of 0. M. Ungers.It was in this context that Hadid rediscovered theSuprematist and Constructivist precursors to the Utopianartist-architects of the 1960s, turning specifically toKazimir Malevich to find her own way of dreaming thefuture by deliberately tapping into experiments left incomplete. Where Tatlin and the later Constructivists abandoned the medium of painting in favor of materially basedreliefs, assemblages, spatial constructions, stage sets,and even architecture-all of which already occupied thesame world as the observer-Malevich Launched a"newpainterly realism" in 1915, called i t Suprematism, anddeclared it the key to transforming the world.6 His corner-at The Lost Futurist Exhibition o f Pointings:"O.lO" inTheword 'Constructivism" came into usage in the earlylg20s, in art most notably with the Working Group ofConstructivists formed in Moscow in 1921, of whomAlexander odchenkoand arvava tepanovabecame thebest knOwn.l etthe term hasoften been associated withtheof VLadimir Tatlin, whose reliefs, beginningcinemas. Working at times in parallel with the artists andat times independently, Constructivist architects devisednew building types that would be commensurate with theforms of social organization desired in the newCommunist state. From apartments to social clubs, theaters, and stadiums, they reconceptualized buildings associal condensers, catalysts for new forms of collectiveLiving.Duringtheearly 1920s, thesevarious trajectoriescoalesced into the challenge of defining a new paradigmthat would unite art and lifeand transform the world into anew artistic reality.With their project Exodus, or The Voluntary Prisoners o fArchitecture (1972, Fig. 02). Rem Koolhaas and EliaZenghelis with Madelonvriesendorp and Zoe Zenghelishad already revisited Russian Constructivism at theArchitectural Association in London, where Hadid wouldPetrograd (191 5. Fig. 03) served to demonstrate both thedeductive rigor and generative potential of what he considered a new system of pure painting. Its systemic character lay in the permutation ofelementalshapes in black.white,and red-beginningwith thesquare,then thecircle,cross,rectangle, trapezium,triangle,ellipse.andcombinations of all these.Through the show, Malevich attractedDstlef Msdns33

1 See Maria Cough. TbeArtist ar Producc Runian C o f r u n i v i ninRmoluf on(Berkeley: University ofCalifornia Press, 2005).4 By the 1960s. London had already become a major locus ofinrerestin Consmcdnsm amone historians.critics.curamrs. arnsts.and architects.2 The term 'Consmctivism" has also served m subsume diverse formalexperiments within the careen of its major figures, such as Naum Cabo, 5 Manin van Schaik and Orakar Macel, eds., &it Umpiu:ArrbitcclumlEl Lissilzky, Liszl6 Moholy-Nagy, and Anroine Pwsner.Pmmafimtr 1956-76 (Munich: Prestel, 2005). p. 238.3 See Catherine Cookc,Rmiun Awn!-Gordc TbeoriuofArt,Arcbfeclun, andfbe City (London: Academy Editions, 1995); andTbe Cnor Utopia Tbc RmionandSovief Aw I-Code, 1915-1932,6 Malcvich called thin new ut 'Supmarism" after the Latin word'suoremus." which connores 'the hiehest."'absolure."'excellenr."and-rulini." See Lnrissa A. Zhadova, i l m i c b u &atism:and'Rm/un'oninRu ubnArt1910-1930 (London: Thames & Hudson,1982); KapmirMa/miicb 1878-1935, exh. cat. (Los Angeles:Armand Hammer Museum ofArt, 1990); and Manhew Drum,Kazimir MaIc icb:Supmnafism, exh. cat. (Berlin: DeurscheGuggenheim, 2003). See also Malevich's TbeNrm-O cctiivrWork?,mans. Howard Dearstyne (Chicago: Paul Theobald & Co., 1959).'a h . cat. (New York: Guggenheim Museum, 1992).students who joined him in developing Suprematism over architecture back onto its origins in painting and in thethe following years, and the style soon incorporated process scrambled the definitions of both mediums.greater diversity, movement, and expression ( igs.04,05). Where Malevich eschewed representation, Hadid's paintArchitect Peter Cook once observed that 'Malevich's ings must beconsidered representational, though not'inaArchitekton [Fig. 061 is constantly being erected as the naturalistic sense, since what they depict are potentialbaselineforZaha'sown work."7Certainly,presentationsof architectures. not physical realities.They represent herHadid's oeuvre often, and with biographical inevitability, vision of an abstract architecture, or in Malevich's terms, abegin with her graduation project from the Architecture nonobjective reality. Moreover,she sets her projects intoAssociation-Malevich'sTektonik of 1976-77-for which specific urban contexts that she portrays abstractly asshe transformed Malevich's assemblage of elemental Suprematist landscapes and cities. Since Suprematismblocks into a hotel on the Hungerford Bridge over the itselfdid notproducesuch interpretativeabstractions,itisThames in London. But what kind of origin was this and necessarytoturn tothepaintingsof landscapesandcitieswhat kind of repetition did it involve?in Cubism. Futurism. and Expressionism (includingWhere Malevich considered his BlackSquore of 1915 as Malevich'sown, such as Fig. 01) to discern the implicationsthe founding origin of Suprematism, the irreducible of Hadid's operation. Drawingon Cubist decompositions of"degree zero" of painting and seed germ of an entire artis- landscapes into prismatic fields, Futurist expressions oftic system. Hadid took up the trajectory of Suprematism dynamic energies,and Expressionist renderings of psychicalready well into its evolution. After five years of develop- experience. Hadid transformed Suprematism from an arting Suprematism in painting. Malevich and his followers of building complexstructures outofelementalgeometricmoved from two into three dimensions, from painting into shapes into one that seeks to makevisible the elementalarchitecture,decorative arts, and even urbanism.8 More nature inherent in the world. Where Malevich declared inprecisely,thisconstituted a return since i t was in his stage 1920 that the forms of Suprematism 'have nothing insets for the Futurist play Victoryover the Sun ( I 913) that common with the technology of the earth's surface,"9he had first discovered

The Modernity of Zaha Hadid Abstract During the heyday of postmodernism in the 1980s, as architects turned to historical styles, urban traditions, and popular culture to rebuild the public support that modernism had lost, Zaha Hadid declared that modernity was an incomplete project that deserved to be continued. This was an inspiring message .

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