Hadid 'Wholesome' Claim
The Zaha Hadid - Architecture and Design spectacular at the Design Museum is, perhaps slightly irksomely, very difficult not to like. In particular, the first section, of her early 80s paintings and models, is apocalyptically exhilarating. At a time when fashionable architectural folk were busy rehabilitating various Fascist architects - Guiseppe Terragni for Peter Eisenman, Albert Speer for Leon Krier - what we have here is a violent, jagged near-chaos, taking up Malevich's unbuilt Architektons and spatialising them into a 'Suprematist Geology' rammed into the heart of London in some explicitly anti-pomo designs. Mind you: what Malevich or Melnikov would have thought of the functional use of The Peak, basically a country club for Hong Kong businessmen, is a point to ponder.
Yet the later works seem almost as powerful, for the most part: as much as one can tell from videos and photos, her buildings for Leipzig and Wolfsburg resemble a roaring, bulging neo-Brutalism rather than the prissy fripperies and facadism of many of her peers. There are big caveats though, some of which will be in a forthcoming SW review. And not mentioned there but irksome are her towers (for some reason verticality isn't her strong suit: they seem far more contrived and whimsical than the terminals, a sort of glassy, organicist 2001 equivalent to Koolhaas' CCTV tower) and much of the Design is simply twee: this Louis Vuitton bag is particularly insufferable.
But to encompass the thing that was making me uncomfortable throughout, there was a little brochure in the press pack from Omniyat Properties, the Dubai property speculators that are building her 'Opus' towers. Proclaiming their buildings to be 'singular, unique, wholesome and very well received by the market', it outlines all the joys awaiting anyone who wants to have their office in this bulging globule of capital, such as 'extravagant indulgences' alongside the more expected 'everyday amenities'. The very start of the brochure is 'born of differential thinking, the Opus is a work of art that will change the way you look at offices, and at working for that matter.' Whether that'll extend to the non-unionised homo sacer that are more than likely going to build the bloody thing is a moot point.