Monday, December 16th, 2019

Tribute to Zaha Hadid

Published on May 12, 2016 by   ·   No Comments


2016 has been off the scale sad for significant ‘celebrity’ deaths. Barely out of the first quarter, and we’ve already lost the likes of David Bowie, Victoria Wood, Alan Rickman, Prince, Ronnie Corbett and Terry Wogan. It seems the baby boomers who rose to fame in the 40s, 50s and 60s are all reaching a tricky age for illness and thanks to social media, internet and TV, we feel like we know them better than ever.

Amongst the faces gone too soon is starchitect Dame Zaha Hadid who died in March age just 65. The Iraq-born British designer, famous for creations such as the Phaeno Science Centre in Wolfsburg, Maxxi Museum in Rome, Guangzhou Opera House in China and the London Olympic Aquatics Centre on the banks of the Thames, had a heart attack in a Miami hospital while being treated for bronchitis. She was widely regarded as the greatest female architect in the world and was an inspirational role model and trailblazer for women in all industries. To illustrate, this sense of shock and loss also extended to the yachting industry where Zaha had recently unveiled another groundbreaking boat design.


Back in 2013 Zaha, in collaboration with Hamburg-based shipbuilders Blohm+Voss, presented a prototype for a 128-metre superyacht at the David Gill Galleries in London. This avant-garde creation was the inspiration for a series of five 90-metre vessels under the name ‘Unique Circle Yachts’. Enveloped in an eye-catching exoskeleton of the kind never been seen before on a superyacht, the lattice-style design physically connects each deck while making a striking architectural statement.

The first of the ‘small’ 90 metre Unique Circle series, Jazz, was pared down from Zaha’s 128 metre opener and technically specified and detailed by naval architects at Blohm+Voss to ensure its suitability for long ocean crossings. Owners are able to customise layouts and interiors to their taste such that each of the five will be completely unique (hence the name).

Speaking at the time, Zaha said, “As a dynamic object that moves in dynamic environments, the design of a yacht must incorporate additional parameters beyond those for architecture – which all become much more extreme on water. Each yacht is an engineered platform that integrates specific hydrodynamic and structural demands together with the highest levels of comfort, spatial quality and safety.”


Whilst Dr Herbert Aly (now former CEO of Blohm+Voss – Herbert was replaced by incumbent CEO Fred van Beers in March 2015) said, “On an aesthetic level a superyacht is a great design task as everything is customised down to the last detail. A superyacht is by definition an exercise in total design, where every detail is looked at with attention and refinement. In the past, in the era of steam liners, there has been an attempt of utilising ship building elements in architecture. Zaha Hadid and her team have taken this ethos and created a bold new vision and a new benchmark in the design of superyacht. The idea of the Unique Circle Yachts allows for variation of a genotype and its phenotypes, offering a range of possible solutions based on a cognate platform. As a result Zaha Hadid’s design is malleable to suit the very individual wishes and needs of a potential customer, which lies at the heart of Blohm+Voss’ approach to yacht design. The strength of the design lies not just in its functionality and form, but also its effortless adaptability.”


Aside from Zaha Hadid, Blohm+Voss has several other famous design collaborations under its belt from 394 foot ‘A’ from the drawing board of Philippe Starck to 533 foot ‘Eclipse’ in conjunction with Terence Dinsdale. Meanwhile Zaha had also designed a limited edition speedboat for American art dealer Kenny Schachter, an artistically asymmetric 7.5 metre long masterpiece named Z-Boat.

Who knows what seagoing creations Zaha could have come up with next if she hadn’t been so suddenly taken from this earth? Our sincerest sympathies go to her family, friends and colleagues.


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