Zaha Hadid dismisses "ridiculous" claims
that Qatar stadium resembles a vagina

| 68 comments
 

News: architect Zaha Hadid has hit back at critics who have compared the design of her Al Wakrah stadium in Qatar to a vagina, describing the comments as "embarrassing" and "ridiculous".

Speaking to TIME magazine, Hadid said: “It’s really embarrassing that they come up with nonsense like this. What are they saying? Everything with a hole in it is a vagina? That’s ridiculous.”

She suggested that the comments would not have been made had the architect been male:  “Honestly, if a guy had done this project…"

Earlier this week Zaha Hadid Architects unveiled the design for the stadium, which is one of several new structures that will be built to host soccer matches during the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Al Wakrah stadium by Zaha Hadid Architects looks like a vagina

Critics immediately compared the 40,000-seater stadium, which its architects claim is based on the curving lines of an Arab dhow fishing boat, to female genitalia.

"I'm no expert, but I think those are labia," Cosmopolitan.com's sex and relationships editor Anna Breslaw told Equire.com.

"Any discerning human will be quick to recognize that the building looks exactly like an enormous vagina," wrote women's website Jezebel.com.

Comments from Dezeen readers included "One vagina in a sea of penis towers" and "It looks like a baboon's bum".

The Al Wakrah stadium has been co-designed by AECOM and features a flowing roof designed to protect spectators from the worst of Qatar's extreme heat.

"With its shiny, pinkish tinge, its labia-like side appendages and its large opening in the middle, the supposedly innocent building ("based upon the design of a traditional Qatari dhow boat") was just asking for trouble," wrote The Guardian's Holly Baxter on the ensuing furore.

It is unusual for an architectural structure to be compared to a vagina; comparisons with the male organ are far more common.

A manipulated image of Foster + Partners' Gherkin skyscraper was used to advertise erectile dysfunction treatment
A manipulated image of Foster + Partners' Gherkin skyscraper was used to advertise erectile dysfunction treatment

A flaccid image of Foster + Partner's Gherkin skyscraper was recently used to advertise a treatment for erectile dysfunction.

The new headquarters for Chinese newspaper People's Daily has been compared to a giant penis
The new headquarters for Chinese newspaper People's Daily has been compared to a giant penis

A building nearing completion in China has been compared to a "giant penis" while comparisons have been made between a Jean Nouvel tower in Doha - also in Qatar - and a dildo.

Jean Nouvel's Doha tower has been compared to a dildo
Jean Nouvel's Doha tower has been compared to a dildo

See five more buildings with unfortunate likenesses.

  • pickname

    “She suggested that the comments would not have been made had the architect been male” If a guy had done this project he would have made the comment himself…

    • Matt

      If a guy had done the project it would have looked like a penis.

      • Elif

        True, but wouldn’t react to phallic metaphors like she did.

  • bias

    Must be an exciting feeling to be inside this stadium.

  • hanswurst

    40000 people will be inside this stadium.

  • God Thedetails

    Come on guy! She’s right! It’s like comparing all fat people with Jabba!

  • God Thedetails

    Nevertheless I think, Zaha Hadid is both architect and caricaturist. Just see her last boat design. It had to happen, She overdesigns every project, she does not even know what it looks like. Full circle!

  • name

    “…and features a flowing roof designed to protect spectators from the worst of Qatar’s extreme heat.”

    So its not only a vagina, but a frigid one.

  • sara

    I don’t know how Mrs. Hadids’s private parts look like, but I could use this building as a diagram to explain all the parts of a vagina. Just admit it. Probably with a female boss nobody in her studio dared to say it…

  • Paoq

    The vagina ref is poor and childish. I think it’s a great stadium with great flow and dynamic.

  • fay

    We all came out of a vagina.

    • Jon

      Macbeth made the mistake of thinking that, too.

  • A

    “Any discerning human will be quick to recognize that the building looks exactly like an enormous vagina.” Love these kind of sentences. Guess I have enough guts to say: apparently I am not a discerning human, as I just didn’t see a VAGINA in a STADIUM. Wondering what Freud would say about people that constantly see genitals in images/objects?

    • amen

      But also nobody will see an Arab dhow in it.

    • pozz

      Not constantly, only when they resemble vaginas : )

  • caro

    “What are they saying? Everything with a hole in it is a vagina?” No but if you make the hole vagina shaped and add small and large labia they will. To make the joke complete she should have added a helipad where the small labia.. umm meets the roof. And then burn of some fireworks every time a helicopter lands on it…

  • achild

    This reminds me of the story “the emperor’s new clothes”. Nobody dared to tell the emperor that she had designed a huge vagina, so she embarrassed herself.

  • prickly pear

    I know, it is a subtle contribution to the women’s rights movement in Qatar. Only to be seen by the country’s leaders when the fly over in their helicopters. Good one Zaha.

  • freedoomore.

    …And what is wrong with a vagina? Unless the stadium bleeds every month, of course!

  • freedoomore

    I will like to get in, get out, get in, get out,… until it rains!

  • freedoomore

    What is wrong with a vagina? Unless the stadium bleeds every month of course!

  • childish

    The grass will not be mowed in this one, it will be waxed.

  • giggle

    The only vagina that can be seen from space.

  • MZK

    The problem with her projects is that it’s all about shapes and only about shapes. Therefore she shouldn’t be offended that critics are only about shapes.

    I’m sure that if this was happening to an office where they make huge analysis and strong concepts (lets say MVRDV to make an example), they would have reply that they don’t care if it looks like something, because its shape has a reason, which is more important than the shape itself.

    But as there is nothing behind Zaha’s curves, sadly when someone says “its look like a “whatever”" all she can reply is “no it doesn’t”.

    For me her reactions is just a proof that there is no idea behind her fancy curves.

    Can a design be considered as good when you don’t have anything to argue when someone tells you “I don’t like the shape” ?

    • seedhub

      Fantastic point.

    • ivan

      You’ve made the point. It’s all about shapes and the softwares behind those shapes.

    • Fraperic

      MDRDV would just fill the facade with an alphabet, leave out a couple of letters, paint it multicoloured, sit back and dream about when they were a serious office that produced intelligent work.

  • mb4design

    Yes, ridiculous. It’s perfectly obvious that it is a bicycle helmet.

  • Architektin
  • Zee

    Critics are simply jealous with success of Zaha.

    • Concerned Citizen

      Success in what way? Notoriety?

  • PeteK

    Grow up! All of you.

  • Marius_Jakobsen

    I’ve heard / seen countless projects being compared to penises etc, during critics at school. I firmly believe lots of designs are dismissed purely on the likeness of a genitalia. I think it’s immature and I have a feeling lots of good ideas and solutions are not given a fair trial. Here in Hadid’s stadium, do you think the roof shouldn’t enclose as much as it does, even though it gives a far better climatic condition inside the stadium? Come on, I mean the worst perverts probably get ideas looking at a cube!

    • AlSheeb

      Don’t you mean “a far better climactic condition inside”?

      • Marius_Jakobsen

        Haha you never know, I’m on the internet after all.

  • pierre

    After all the buildings having been compared to d****, maybe a building being compared to a vagina is just a step further to gender equality.

  • Elif

    Cf. male architects’ responses to phallic metaphors.

  • Cel West

    “Asking for trouble” said the Guardian. Ahh those women designing things, it’s just asking for trouble. Same as them walking down the street, eh?

  • ringo star

    Absolutely. I love vaginas!

  • cus

    Designing a phallic structure can easily happen by accident, designing a vagina shaped building takes some serious effort.

  • schwarz

    So Zaha is considering a vagina as something embarrassing and ridiculous? Something a building should not be inspired by? Feminists as well as every open minded and well informed person will not be amused. She should really know better.

    • yes

      She should be proud that it is possible to build a vagina-shaped building in a state where it is still not so easy for women to achieve something.

      • i say

        Seeing how complex a vagina is, she should be proud that a vagina-shaped building can be built at all, let alone where.

  • http://www.dezeen.com/ Dezeen Magazine

    Hi pozz,

    Apologies for that but we really couldn’t publish your wordplay – however creative!

    Kind regards,

    Ross/Dezeen

    • pozz

      I know, just kidding. Could I leave it at “there’s a lot of misogynaecology in architecture”? :p

    • Fraperic

      I want more wordplays. Must be better than a lot of the dross you do publish.

  • Donatas Pabrėža

    Well no one can unsee something after seeing it.
    Especially if it resembles something sexual or embarrassing. A lot of people will come inside. They will watch some good looking men running. Some balls will get kicked.

    And during the event, some sports commentator in some country will make some kind of commentary about a woman’s private parts and most listening will laugh.

    So after all, this project is great because it makes people a bit more happy.

    • LOL

      “A lot of people will come inside” Noo they should use protection. Who wants to see a stadium give birth?

  • Concerned Citizen

    “She doth protest too much, methinks.”

  • Steeevyo

    The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

  • http://dailygrail.com/ Red Pill Junkie

    Hooligans will be called ‘crabs’ ;)

  • NAME

    This is what happens when you base your design decisions on form. If there is nothing to rationalize the form chosen, you are left with the world to think your design looks like a vagina.

  • Hermann

    Can someone please pass Ms Hadid a mirror or copy of Gray’s Anatomy?

    • i say

      Maybe she did use a mirror. The joke would be on you.

  • Mimi

    I dont understand why is it wrong to resemble vagina? Vagina is beautiful!

  • ram

    This is ridiculous. Imagine the amount of time, energy and thought that must have been applied for the structure. At least it doesn’t look like any other boring soccer stadium.

  • atomicbloke

    The irony is that her clients are the least likely candidates to embrace feminism, but I see nothing wrong with Zaha becoming architecture’s Georgia O’Keefe.

  • cuca

    Again, why is it so wrong to look like a vagina? Why that shape, comparing with the phallus shape.

  • hudley

    Hadid featured in my dissertation some 15 years ago. I marvelled at her creativity. Now I feel her studio has a rubber stamp design philosophy. This stadium reminds me of avatar. A celebrated name doesn’t automatically mean the design is successful.

  • Emerson

    What is everyone so uptight about?

  • Fed Fef

    Why are there so many people around the stadium in the visual? They look like zombies.

  • F

    In a state of some arousal too I’d say.

  • Wajeeh Ur Rehman

    Below the belt comments on architectural projects is uncivilised.

  • name

    Is there vagina fan club? Please somebody leave information so I can join.

  • Vic Stapel

    Why do people always have to decipher creativity and add the worst comparisons? There are fibers, water, leaves, sand dunes that could come to mind, but NO, people always go below the belt first. Very sad, simplistic and rather low IQ.

    Her work is stunning and these haters just wish it was “their” Design chosen. And at the end, if they like to persist on the ridiculous idea, well the architect is a woman and it’s a “man’s world” out there, so be it. Let it remain a vagina in their mind as this one is Amazon-like, supremely covering, ruling and hopefully winning.

  • Kbizz

    I think this structure is great. It’s an organic, well designed shape. I particularly like the roof detail at the lower level entry gates. My only worry is whether or not the centre bracing will create an unwanted shadow on the playing field? As far as vagina jokes go, I think you’ll find a whole lot of things in this world look like genitalia.

    It’s just that this one is on such a large scale and by a very well known architect, it’s copping all the attention. Everyone needs to calm down and look at it from another perspective.

  • tizoh

    I think Zaha’s designs are out of this world. If the stadium looks like a vagina it’s a very beautiful vagina. I wouldn’t mind being that stadium and I believe all men who will go there to watch soccer will be pretty excited.