Zaha Hadid has been named as one of CNN’s ‘Leading Women’, receiving worldwide recognition for her design of the Olympic Aquatic Centre, costing £269m to construct, housing two swimming pools and 22,500 seats. The full interview will air on CNN at 10.30 and 17.30 on 29 August 2012, and 05.30 and 19.30 on 1 September 2012.
The Centre has been named by architectural critics as the Olympics ‘most majestic’ space, and Becky Anderson, CNN, met Zaha at her exhibition space to find out more about her achievements, recent projects, and winning the Pritzker Prize. The hot topic of the interview was, however, why are there so few leading women architects in the industry?
Zaha is indisputably the face of successful female architecture. A household name to those who study and appreciate it, she has created some of the world’s most recognisable structures, the Bridge Pavilion in Spain, the Bergisel Ski Jump, Austria, and the Vitra fire station, Germany, to name but three. So why are there so few women at the top?
Zaha responded to the question: "It's very difficult. I really don't understand why […] I don't know... I think that women, once they became more liberated, they want to do everything themselves. You know the woman has to do everything. Work, do the house, the child and I think it's not possible. There is too much to do."
Figures released by RIBA earlier this year as part of the RIBA Future Trends Survey revealed a 7% drop in the number of female architects over the last two years. Perhaps the main struggle for some women, as Zaha suggests, is that they simply have ‘too much to do’ in the domestic sphere of home-life to become successful architects.
Zaha went on to acknowledge the limitations of being labeled ‘woman architect’, and commented on her status as ‘mentor’ to women: “I mean, I used to not like being called a woman architect. I'm an architect, not just a woman architect, because the guys used to tap me on the head and say, 'you are ok for a girl'. But I see the incredible amount of a kind of need from other women for reassurance that it could be done, so I don't mind that at all."