Zaha Hadid sets sights on London skyline

Zaha Hadid is hoping to make her mark on the London skyline by moving into high-rise commercial development in the capital.Hadid is best known for designing public buildings in the UK and overseas but the woman behind the Olympics’ aquatics centre has told Building this isn’t all the practice can do and that she sees a future in tall buildings in the UK.
The decision to look at the London market is, in part, due to the fact that the practice has been hit hard by the combination of economic downturn and political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa. The group’s workforce was cut by 100 to 350 employees last month after schemes, many of which were high-rise office developments in countries such as Dubai, Egypt and Libya, went on hold. Hadid is now looking to make use of the group’s expertise elsewhere.

Patrik Schumacher, partner in Zaha Hadid Architects, said: “We have built up so much expertise in teams working on tall buildings all over the world – in Dubai, Egypt, Spain, Italy, France. There is a huge capacity of staff; we need an outlet for them and I think the UK is ready for this.

“We have these high-value, precious sites in London and this is where we can demonstrate the power of our style. In London the sites are so complex, you can’t get away too easily with a bland, simplistic design. We want to move away from bland curtain walls and work with the skeleton to give character to our buildings.”

Hadid said: “We don’t do anything the same, so everything would be a surprise.”