Architecture Civil Society Heritage Research

Zaha Hadid and the female empowerment of architecture in Europe

Photo: Virgile Simon Bertrand 


“Who better than a woman to describe curves though architecture and influence the new generations of women architects? I’m an architect, and Zaha Hadid is a female influence to me.”

Zaha Hadid: Internationally Acclaimed British Architect

Dame Zaha Hadid (1950-2016), an Anglo-Iraqi architect, was the first female representative to be awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004. The Pritzker Prize is the most prestigious award in Architecture.  Born in Baghdad, Iraq Hadid has a solid career in London, the UK especially at the Architectural Association of London. With grace, form, light and dexterity in the design of parametric projects, the most celebrated female exponent in all-time architecture believed that being anti-traditional is the key to innovation in the world.

Architecture and gender discussion

Just a print took in the Pritzker Architecture Prize Site. Since Zaha Hadid’s nomination, just 2 women have been nominated until 2018.

Maybe you’ve already heard the architectural references like Le Corbusier, Jean Nouvel, Renzo Piano and Rem Koolhaas. But we hear less often about Kazuyo Sejima, Lina Bo Bardi, Odile Decq and many other women architects with fantastic architectural masterpieces.

According to research presented by Archdaily, the distribution of salaries, social representation and positions obtained by female architects are not equal to their male counterparts. At the Architecture School, most of my academic professors were women, and 80% of my colleagues in University are women. But I have always missed female representations in the field of architecture. Talking about gender in the professional field is not a matter of classifying and differentiating women in the subject of the profession, but instead, recognizing their work equally.

In an interview with The Guardian in 2012, Zaha Hadid explained that

“It’s still very difficult for women to operate as professionals, because there are still some worlds women have no access to. No matter what you do, because you’re a woman, you cannot enter. But I don’t believe that stereotype remains in architecture. In the last 15 years there’s been tremendous change. Half of architecture students are women, and you see respected, established female architects all the time.”

Due to her work, Zaha Hadid became a solid reference in contemporary architecture and reaffirmed the role of female architects around the world. After her legacy I found inside the school of architecture and design, a wave of inspiration for young students.

Personal pursuit of Zaha Architecture in Europe

I was a young student of architecture when I met her in a conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Since 2012 when I came from Brazil to do my studies and live in Europe, I pursued her work in some cities I visited. In my travels around Europe, I always seek to reconcile tourism and learning, travelling to some addresses where the architecture inspires me.The world never looks the same.

What better way for an architect to learn about the quality of the spaces than savoring each of these places?  

Most places I visited in Europe were places of cultural interest. But the versatile work of Zaha Hadid as an architect has spanned several other fields of design, from exhibit design projects, social housing to even sports complexes.

MAXXI Museum of the 21st Century, Rome Italy



London Aquatic Sports Center, London UK




Spittelau Viaducts Housing Project, Vienna Austria



Glasgow Riverside Museum of Transport, Glasgow Scotland



Serpentine Gallery, London UK

Mathematics, Science Museum of London UK




In all those places I visited, I was amazed by the projects I saw, the quality of the space and the form that it takes and is involved in the urban context. I strongly believe that the heritage that Zaha Hadid left with her projects scattered throughout especially in Europe and the world is living proof that yes, we can do it girls!

Photos: Cover photo: Virgile Bertrand. All the others by Anna Karla Almeida



  1. Ana Paula Branco

    É realmente difícil sentir representatividade feminina no campo da arquitetura e urbanismo, não por que não há mulheres com trabalhos incríveis, mas por que são invisibilizadas. Parabéns pelo trabalho, Anna!
    It’s really difficult to feel female representativeness in the field of architecture and urbanism, not because there’re no women with incredible jobs, but because they made them invisible. Congratulations on your work, Anna!

    • Anna Karla Almeida

      Acredito que essa perspectiva é a nivel mundial. Realmente, também sinto falta dessa representatividade. Tantos edificios de arquitetura moderna e contemporanea feitos por verdadeiras maestras da arquitetura sao esquecidos ou fracamente mencionados. É necessario abordar a questao de gênero em profissões que envolvem a técnica, tão ligadas ao ‘masculino’. Fico feliz pelo seu comentário pois precisamos discutir isso! Obrigada

      I believe that this perspective is worldwide. Indeed, I also miss this representativeness. So many buildings of modern and contemporary architecture made by true masters of architecture are forgotten or dimly mentioned. It is necessary to address the issue of gender in professions involving the technique, so closely linked to the masculine. I’m happy for your comment because we need to discuss this! Thanks

  2. Vouffo Bergenie

    Un thème qui s’inscrit en droite ligne avec les objectifs de la journée. Pour moi l’architecture est l’un des arts les plus humains qu’il soit. Et c’est normal que la femme que la femme y soit au centre. Mais malheureusement on pourrait évoquer la femme dans l’architecture, dans l’art en général, dans la politique, dans l’économie… Malgré son implication elle reste invisible. Lorsqu’on parle des grands noms de l’architecture c’est toujours le masculin (le corbusier, Jean nouvel…) ou même dans l’art en général (Picasso, Léonard de vinci)… Pourtant l’ingéniosité de la femme dans ses domaines et même dans tous les domaines techniques n’est plus à démontrer. Les femmes doivent s’unir pour mener ce combat global qui est celui de leur émancipation. L’histoire de la place de la femme dans les disciplines artistiques et techniques est à écrire. Les génies doivent sortir de l’ombre pour inspirer des générations de femmes en quête se repères. Merci Anna ton article est déjà une solution au problème. Yes women can do it.

    • Anna Karla Almeida

      Thank you for your comment, Bergenie! I feel empowerment in your words and you make the difference with it!

      D’acccord, Il y’a une quasi absence de la femme dans L’histoire de l’art et pour l’architecture c’est pareil. La femme et sa ingeniosité dans le différentes domaines ont été toujours présentes, mais parfois invisible à la grande critique. On a vraiment besoin d’allumer nos références féminines dans notre vie!

  3. Bruno Charles

    Zaha Hadid was indeed a woman of courage and influenced a whole generation of architects, both women and men, in several ways. It changed revolutionizing the design methodology, the techniques of designing and constructing spaces, showed us that Architecture has no limits, presented us with architectural trends increasingly replicated and inspired by his work, worked in various fields of creation such as fashion, arts and marketing allied to architecture … and, above all, demonstrated firmly the power of decision, collaboration and recognition of a woman in a male-dominated environment, and who will always be remembered by everyone for being irreplaceable!
    Thank you for reading such a passionate text that shows how much Zaha influenced you as an architect and as a woman, strong and determined!

  4. Impressive selfie! Zaha buildings in Scotland -Kirkcaldy and Glasgow- are notable for coming to extremely sharp points, for being almost impossible to construct, or (Glasgow transport curators are rumoured to say) to work with once built. So nothing at all feminine or like a woman in their iconography!
    Glasgow was determined to have an iconic showpiece, and succeeded. It is the better for having something remarkable on that riverfront, best seen from Govan. The Kirkcaldy Maggies Centre is very worthy, but can’t often be visited due to its users (terminal cancer patients) despite being her first UK building to get from drawing board to actually being built.

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