Inaugurated on June 8, the free exhibition organized by students Zaha Hadid: Reimagining London will be presented at the former headquarters of Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) in a Victorian school building on Bowling Green Lane in Clerkenwell, central London. As announced at the official launch of the ZHF last March, the body footprint of the foundation, which will eventually oversee a permanent museum, a gallery, a learning center, a research center and a think tank, will be divided into two body locations: the former Zha offices where the inaugural exhibition will be exhibited (the company was decimated last summer due to problems converting the historic building into a post-recent times workplace) and in the former space of the Design Museum in a converted banana ripening warehouse near Tower Bridge that Hadid had bought in 2013.
Separate from the venue, Zaha Hadid: Reimagining London is an in-depth study of the foundation’s archives and collections presenting a multitude of “rare and invisible” works—including Hadid’s personal sketchbooks—from an uncompromising and highly decorated career that spanned architecture, art and design. Hadid suffered a heart strike and died in March 2016 at the age of 65.
Although Hadid, born in Baghdad, made her home in London for decades after arriving in the British capital in 1972 to study at the Architectural Association, few projects designed by her eponymous firm during her lifetime were carried out in London, as stated in a press release announcing the inaugural exhibition: “and yet Hadid, from her studies, was deeply inspired by the complex urban landscape of London,” the statement says. “This exhibition brings together his visions for London for the first time.”
A variety of media are on display, including paintings, drawings, collages and models that “reveal his distinctive thought process and innovative design methods, presented in projects ranging from utopian imagination to competition entries and buildings finis.La centerpiece is London 2066, a large-scale painting created in 1991 that depicts a future London “stretched eastward” with its “veins flowing in new directions.”
Zaha Hadid: Reimagining London, as mentioned, was put together by a team of students from the master’s program at the Courtauld Institute of Art, which the Art Museum organizes. (Courtauld is an independent college of the University of London.”Our goal is to facilitate the work of architects, designers, artists, academics and the general public, in order to advance knowledge in the creative sector,” said Paul Greenhalgh, director of the ZHF, in a statement. “This exhibition by Courtauld’s student curators is the first in a series of creative collaborations with educational partners.”
The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of live events, including a panel discussion, a conversation with architect Nigel Coats and a “late-night opening” to be held on June 10 as part of the London Festival of Architecture. (A full overview of the monthly citywide festivities list can be found here.) Zaha Hadid: Reimagining London ends on July 2; a plan to publish a review of the exhibition during its run.
The ZHF was first created in 2013 by Hadid, but its full realization was significantly delayed both by her unexpected pass away and by the messy lawful action over her estate that followed. The foundation’s goal is to preserve and make available to the public “the full range of Zaha’s extraordinary achievements” while “promoting research, learning and enjoyment of the related fields of modern architecture, art and design.””Shortly after the full launch of the ZHF in March, the London School of Architecture announced a new full-time scholarship program for a total of three students from refugee or low-income backgrounds, including, perhaps, architecture students displaced from war-ravaged Ukraine. The funds for the scholarship program were made possible thanks to a donation from ZHF.