In Depth

Zaha Hadid: architect's five most iconic buildings

Queen of the Curve's distinctive buildings ranged from sexy to vertigo-inducing and 'jaw-dropping'

Iraqi-British architect Dame Zaha Hadid, who has just died at the age of 65, created some of the world's most iconic buildings and was known as the 'Queen of the Curve' for her distinctive, fluid, futuristic designs. 

Hadid, who died of a heart attack on Thursday in Miami, was commissioned to design buildings around the world, from Hong Kong and Germany to Italy, Azerbaijan and Qatar. She was most famous in the UK for the London Aquatic Centre, built for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Hadid was also the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize and the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) Gold Medal for her work.

BBC arts editor Will Gompertz calls her "an extraordinary human being".

"She was not only one of Britain's greatest architects, but one of the world's great architects of the 21st century and late 20th century," he says.

Following her death, author Kathy Lette tweeted that Hadid's "beautiful, undulating feminine designs proved that you didn't need a phallic edifice complex to be a brilliant architect".

Here are five of Hadid's most iconic buildings:

London Aquatics Centre, UK

The swimming centre, built for the 2012 Olympics at a cost of £269m, is a light-filled, cathedral-like space in Stratford, east London, that houses two 50-metre pools under a wave-shaped roof resting on three concrete supports. The Guardian called it the "most jaw-dropping municipal swimming pool in the world".

Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre, Azerbaijan

Hadid won the London Design Museum's Design of the Year award 2014 for this building in the capital of Azerbaijan, Baku, which one judge described as "as pure and sexy as Marilyn's blown skirt". The structure connects three buildings – a library, museum and concert hall – and is noted for its flowing, curved style, which Hadid said was based on the contours of a mountain range.

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Messner Mountain Museum, Italy

Hadid created this spectacular, vertigo-inducing museum for renowned climber Reinhold Messner at the top of Alpine peak Mount Kronplatz. The structure, completed last year, features underground galleries and a viewing platform cantilevered over a valley. The architect used cast concrete to give the structure the appearance of rock and ice, reflecting the topography of the region.

Guangzhou Opera House, China

Hadid was particularly praised for her design of the Guangzhou Opera House in China in 2010 – architectural critic Jonathan Glancey in The Guardian called it "at once highly theatrical and insistently subtle". The building, described as "cosmic" by CNN, was inspired by the River Pearl, which it overlooks. Hadid has likened it to two rocks washed up from the Pearl River and deposited on its bank.

Sheikh Zayed Bridge, Abu Dhabi

The bridge, named after the country's chief architect and former president, was built at a cost of £200m and spans the Maqtah Channel. The 842-metre bridge connects Abu Dhabi Island with the mainland with a curved design that evokes the undulating dunes of the desert, and is said to be best viewed at night, when subtle coloured light flows along its spine.

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