It might have been an innocent query on Google asking "how old is Zaha Hadid?" (thanks, Wikipaedia. Born 31 October 1950), but the top rated link told me much more that I also needed to know. I have singled out Hadid's work on this blog for both exasperated chastisement and grudging admiration. The ambivalence had not bothered me, in as much as I see no problem in seeing both good and bad in an architectural oeuvre growing so quickly and conspicuously. But it has bothered me that I have neither the benefit of first-hand contact with the architect, nor opportunity to study her buildings in the flesh, and therefore could not satisfactorily connect them.
And so to the point. This post is simply to commend an article that does precisely that. THE FIRST GREAT FEMALE ARCHITECT is a recent reprint in The Economist Intelligent Life supplement, of an article written in 2008 by Jonathan Meades, author of Museum Without Walls. It is an erudite, intimate exploration of not only the architect/artist, but of her milieu in London and in British architecture. Like all literate critique, it is a construction of allusions, many contentious. But then, so is Zaha Hadid's architecture, and I now feel like I understand better why.
Without further ado, read it here.