Monday, March 03, 2008
posted by dag at 6:04 AM


«In Italy everything takes so long, I have dozens of building sites opened and we cannot finish anything. I would like to sell my work and not only on paper». Zaha Hadid is upset with Italy. Fifty-eight years old, Iraqi, undisputed queen of worldwide architecture and the first woman to win the Pritzker prize (the equivalent of the "Nobel" for architecture) is in Innsbruck to inaugurate her latest wonder: the Nordkettenbahn, the cable railway station created, planned and built in less than two years.Ms. Hadid, here in Innsbruck this is your second important work created in only four years: here they could not even find an agreement on the Citylife project to upgrade the former Fair of Milan. From North to South there are dozens of projects from your office in Italy, or perhaps we should say building sites, eternally opened? Here everything is a lot slower and we must be very patient. Every project has its own personal stalemate situation. I believe it depends on the fact that nothing has happened for such a long time, for years there have only been commercial operations, architecture had nothing to do with matters of public interest. Instead now there is a revival and the fact that it is coming from above is positive but we must consider this slow and difficult run-in.Do you believe in this change? I don't know. I see a lot of enthusiasm but going from intentions to facts is a very long passage. Architects must do a double job. It is as if in Italy people are afraid of anything new, they avoid any kind of change and keep it away.It is also true that you work in two very delicate sectors for Italy, the contemporary sector and the infrastructures: the Maxxi in Rome and the High Speed Line station in Afragola, in Naples, these are projects with a strong symbolic meaning…Those who administer culture and modernity do not want to destroy the past; they are only trying to open towards something new. Is this so difficult to understand? Tradition as a limit is an alibi, indeed for us architects it is wonderful to work in your country because there is a great balance between what is given and what is received. As for the Maxxi, next year it should finally open but we have had so many problems, the project has been ready for some time now, but we were blocked at phase one. The whole thing is there but unfortunately we must still make do with fragments.What about the Citylife project in Milan? In that case private figures must really make it become something important: our work on the former Fair is the result of mediation and willpower that have little to do with us. There is no doubt that the old structure was truly horrible.Do you think it is coincidental that, after the arrival of architectural stars like yourself, Rem Koolhas and the two Swiss Herzog and de Meuron, all involved in important projects like your Betile Museum of Cagliari, an Architect Festival like Festarch was created?I believe that the reason for big architectural projects is actually to create movement, a stir. In any case this should be true anywhere.Do you believe that in general this is a good moment for architecture? Yes, today things are definitely going better. Look around: 80% of the buildings created after the war are ugly. They used to build for the sake of building, because the population was increasing and there was a need for structures, or for money, interests, speculation. There were no projects for the city and little attention was given to urban harmony. Nobody thought about it.Which is the country where it is best to work? Germany is a fantastic country because there is a system of public works that really runs smoothly, as in Austria. France has been an excellent country to work in but it is now experiencing a phase of immobilism. Then there is Spain that is experiencing a very lively phase.By now your work is at 360 degrees and goes from engineering to a design collection: Zaha Hadid is no longer only a studio of architecture, but is becoming a brand. The idea always comes from the same source, creation changes according to the focus, the technique, the project. Linking architecture to art and design is not a new idea; they were even more connected previously.In a while the Miami/Basel Fair will start, the art fair in which a number of your works will appear. What do you think of this new so-called art design market? I don't think that is art. It is a way to make money, organize fairs, actually a way to create commercial value. Of course it is true that people are a lot more interested in art today and they invest a lot more. The arrival of the art gallery owner Larry Gagosian in Rome in this period is not incidental.But it is a field in which you too "play": for example with your latest work, Dune Formations, ordered by the David Gill Galleries in London… That is not an art gallery, it is a financial gallery. I appreciate what Ambra Medda managed to create at Miami/Basel very much. However we must not confuse business with artistic creation.
Source: Luxury Sole24ore
Translation in Italian here
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