Up Close: The Models of Zaha Hadid

silver and gold detail of a Zaha Hadid model

In 2013, Dame Zaha Hadid took the opportunity of moving into a new building to create an archive for her architectural models. This collection included projects both realized and unbuilt, and was intended more as a research tool than as a repository. Often fragmentary and experimental, these models showcased the formal trajectories of her work. Ambiguity in terms of scale allowed a given model of a building to be read as a prototype for jewelry or lighting design, a piece of furniture, a master plan.

As the collection grew, Hadid asked her friend and colleague Mark Garcia to create a photo-essay of the set. Using a macro lens to achieve a forensic quality, the cropped and up close shots were intended to highlight details and different aspects of craft. What happened with these images exceeded this intention as a very human landscape emerged from the images: one of folds, clefts, dimples, and filaments. There is something undeniably sensuous about the photographs, something warm and glowing.

In this first public exhibition, 24 prints selected from a series of 195 original shots are shown alongside three "Kuki" chairs designed by Zaha Hadid Architects and inspired by the model collection. What was intended as the first phase of a larger photographic project by Garcia was cut short by the architect's death in 2016. Hadid was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize and the RIBA Gold Medal, and she was awarded the Stirling Prize in 2010 and 2011.

Mark Garcia is a writer, photographer, and teacher. He is a senior lecturer in histories, theories, and futures at the Department of Architecture and Landscape, University of Greenwich. He has held research posts at Oxford University and at the Royal College of Art. He is guest editor of several AD (architectural design) anthologies including Future Details of Architecture as well as editor of The Diagrams of Architecture (Wiley).

This exhibition was curated by associate professor of practice Mark Morris, director of exhibitions, with special thanks to Patrik Schumacher and Zaha Hadid Architects. Schumacher will deliver a public lecture immediately following the artist talk. 

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