Skip to main content

Zaha Hadid: 'I wouldn't build a prison'

By Sheena McKenzie, CNN
updated 10:03 AM EDT, Thu October 31, 2013
Architect Zaha Hadid, outside Glasgow's Riverside Museum, her first major public commission in the UK, in 2011.
Architect Zaha Hadid, outside Glasgow's Riverside Museum, her first major public commission in the UK, in 2011.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Architect Zaha Hadid says politicians should take care of their work force
  • Believes architecture can "alleviate an oppressive situation"
  • Full article to appear on CNN.com tomorrow

(CNN) -- She wouldn't build a prison. But the world's most famous female architect, Zaha Hadid, says she's willing to work in countries which have faced criticisms over their human rights records.

The 62-year-old Iraqi-born Briton made the comments during an exclusive interview with CNN -- to appear in full Friday.

Hadid, the first woman to receive the Pritzker Prize in 2004 -- regarded as the Nobel of architecture -- designed Beijing's Galaxy Soho shopping center and Heydar Aliyev cultural center in Azerbaijan.

Is she concerned about the human rights credentials of the countries -- Hadid is responsible for 950 projects in 44 countries -- she works in?

"As an architect, if you can in any way alleviate an oppressive situation, or elevate a culture, then I think that you should," Hadid, who has been commissioned to build Japan's 2020 Olympic Stadium and recently opened London's Serpentine Sackler gallery, told CNN.

"It's different if someone asks you to build a prison -- I wouldn't do it. But if I'm doing a museum or a library, I think that's different," added Hadid, whose latest project is designing a superyacht.

"I think that you can't isolate nations because somebody doesn't approve. And if that is the case, then they shouldn't have diplomatic relationships with them."

And the conditions of the construction workers?

"It's not your responsibility really. I think different nations should take care of their workforce.

"As an architect, if you are involved in every layer then honestly you don't do anything. I'm not saying I shouldn't be thinking about it, but I think it's a job for the politicians, for the media, for the locals, to deal with it."

For the full interview, see CNN on November 1.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:49 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
British PM David Cameron has had the narrowest of political escapes.
updated 9:06 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
British journalist John Cantlie hadn't been seen in nearly two years. Now, he's the latest hostage to be paraded out by ISIS.
The burial leader. The hospital gatekeeper. The disease detective. All telling powerful, stories from West Africa.
updated 7:03 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Alibaba's IPO is unlike anything investors have ever seen and could threaten other online retailers. Maggie Lake reports.
updated 11:58 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Indian PM Narendra Modi has said al Qaeda will fail if it seeks to spread its terror network into his country.
updated 8:01 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Put yourself in the shoes (and sixth-century black robes) of ISIS' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the mysterious boss of the terror group.
updated 10:44 AM EDT, Sat September 20, 2014
 Tennis Player Li Na attends the WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party as guests enjoy Ciroc Vodka presented by Dubai Duty Free at Kensington Roof Gardens on June 19, 2014 in London,
Asia's first grand slam singles champion Li Na has called time on her 15-year tennis career.
Jenson Button has some of quickest reactions ever shown at an advanced sports lab.
updated 7:24 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Creative companies with quirky ideas find new lending models advantageous.
updated 10:09 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Even death couldn't part two skeletons excavated from a lost chapel in an English county, found with their fingers entwined.
updated 6:07 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT