Dame Zaha Hadid, who designed our Maggie’s Centre in Fife, has died at the age of 65.
She contracted bronchitis earlier this week, and died after a sudden heart attack while being treated in a hospital in Miami.
Hailed as one of the true greats of modern architecture, she worked across the world, but the creation of our Maggie’s Centre in the grounds of Victoria Hospital was a significant step - it was the first building she completed in the UK.
Until then she had been best known for her stunning avante-garde designs which didn’t get off the ground - so much so she was dubbed the ’paper architect.’
Dame Zaha famously won the project to design the new Cardiff Bay Opera House in Wales only for a u-turn which left it on the drawing board - so Maggie’s Fife became her breakthrough project in the UK. She then went on to design the stunning Riverside Museum on the banks of the Clyde and the London Aquatic Centre which was used for the 2012 Olympics.
Across the globe she designed everything from a BMW factory in Germany to the National Museum of 21st Century Arts in Rome - and she was showered with the highest honours.
Ms. Hadid was twice the recipient of the RIBA Stirling Prize, she received the Republic of France’s Commandeur de l’Ordre des Artes et des Lettres and Japan’s Praemium Imperiale.
In 2004 she became the first female architect to win the prestigious Pritzker Architecture.
In 2012, she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
Dame Zaha’s work on Maggie’s Fife came about through her friendship with Maggie Jencks, who was the inspiration behind all the Maggie’s Centres.
She created one of the most distinctive buildings in the Kingdom with its sharp black points, and pure white interior where the walls all curve round - the sparkling black was inspired by the region’s coal mining history, and she often explained how the building rose up as you walked along its path - making you feel safe and secure as you reached the front door, leading to the large table which sat at the heart of the kitchen area.
In an interview with the Fife Free Press to mark the centre’s opening in 2006, she explained: “In a very modest way it’s about making a space where people can have a good life.
“I’ve always been interested in combining architecture with a social agenda, and I really think you can invest and be inventive with hospitals and housing. It doesn’t have to be about being iconic.
“I remember when I first went to see Maggie’s Centre in Edinburgh and began to see how people actually used it. It was very emotional.”
Dame Zaha attended the centre’s official opening in 2006, and there was a dinner in her honour held in Edinburgh, and attended by many who had championed the creation of Maggie’s Fife.
Her designs were unique and eye-catching - she pushed boundaries, often took risks
She once said: “There are 360 degrees, so why stick to one?”
Born in Baghdad in 1950, Dame Zaha’s career began in 1993 with her first major commission, the Vitra Fire Station in Germany. In 2003 she created the Rosenthal Contemporary Arts Centre in Cincinnati, a vast gallery of zig-zagging ramps, which she described as an “urban carpet.”