Kurfürstendamm

By Michael Wolfson

Zaha Hadid (1950–2016), doodle sketch, Azabu-Juban, 1986. Ink on paper from Hotel Copacabana Palace, Brasil, 150 × 105 mm. DMC 3077.1.

Zaha Hadid’s sketches during mid-1980s for projects often unknown and unbuilt mark a transitional period in her drawing and thinking, from the early work inspired by the programme briefs and axonometric drawing style of OMA. Often she sketches in plan, her line moving right to left, discernable through an initial dot, where the ink bleeds with the pressure of the pen when it first meets the paper. The extrusion into three-dimensional volume, although implied, was refined through collaboration.

The segments to be published in the coming weeks explore her drawing technique through her early collaborator Michael Wolfson and four projects c. 1986. Wolfson worked with Zaha from 1982 on The Peak competition and exhibition – designed in her flat at Kynance Mews and painted in the Architectural Association studios – through to the late 1980s.

Zaha Hadid (1950–2016) and Michael Wolfson (1958), Sketches (recto), Azabu-Juban, 1986. Blue ink on tracing, 210 × 298 mm. DMC 3077.2.
Zaha Hadid (1950–2016) and Michael Wolfson (1958), Sketches (verso), Azabu-Juban, 1986. Blue ink on tracing, 210 × 298 mm. DMC 3077.2.

On this double-sided page of doodles it is not clear where to start. There are squiggles in blue ink made on two loose sheets – this was when she was in Rio. The sketches might have had to do with something, but it wasn’t anything specific that I can recall. When she does these she is on her own. And I am sure it would not have been done in the studio. There was a lot going on in the office in the 1980s that isn’t well known. There was West Hollywood, the football stadium in Dubai, the two projects in Japan—all never realised.

What we discussed in the studio during those first years was dynamic line and movement, where the dynamics of a line became a purely visual aesthetic. See these sharp angular points – Zaha didn’t do those, I did them. What is important to realise here, in these early sketches, is that there is sometimes more than one hand on each sheet. This was work in progress, where whoever was involved in the discussion would be drawing.

Zaha Hadid (1950–2016), Sketches (recto), Azabu-Juban, 1986. Blue ink on tracing, 298 × 210 mm. DMC 3077.13.
Zaha Hadid (1950–2016), Sketches (verso), Azabu-Juban, 1986. Blue ink on tracing, 298 × 210 mm. DMC 3077.13.