Zaha "delivered an unprecedented expansion" of architectural style says Patrik Schumacher

Zaha Hadid 1950-2016: Patrik Schumacher has paid tribute to the "empowering" and "unprecedented" architectural moves developed by his former partner Zaha Hadid, who died unexpectedly in March following a heart attack.

Schumacher, who was Hadid's co-director at Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) and is now set to lead the business, posted a tribute to his former boss and collaborator on Facebook on Saturday.

"When I first encountered Zaha's work as a young student in Stuttgart University in the mid 80s it was like a shock of revelation," he wrote. "There was nothing like this. The bounds of architectural possibilities had shifted."

Patrik Schumacher
Patrik Schumacher

Hadid died in Miami at the age of 65 after suffering a heart attack while in hospital being treated for pneumonia. She was one of the world's most celebrated and divisive architects.

Hadid was known for combining swooping curves with unusual angles in her buildings, with examples including the double-humped Heydar Aliyev Centre in Azerbaijan, the Pringle-like roof of the London 2012 Aquatics Centre, and the Maxxi Museum of Art in Rome, which features curving gallery walls.

MAXXI museum, Rome
MAXXI museum, Rome

"Zaha had delivered an unprecedented expansion of the discipline's repertoire, offering new degrees of freedom to the designer," wrote Schumacher of his earliest encounters with Hadid's work.

"What we did not yet grasp at the time – and I doubt that Zaha herself or anybody else fully understood this at the time – is the performative empowerment that these new options and degrees of freedom delivered to us as problem solvers: Zaha had expanded architecture's universe of possibilities."

Schumacher said that Hadid had developed a new architectural language with techniques or "moves" that might have previously seemed "surreal or absurd", and titled his tribute Zaha's Incredible Moves.

London 2012 Aquatics Centre
London 2012 Aquatics Centre

Perhaps the most important of these was treating her rapidly produced, curved sketches as literal drawings of a building, rather than as ideas or "an ideal geometric form, which was meant to be rationalised into straight lines and arcs".

"A new language of architecture with a much increased problem-solving versatility, and with a much richer, more expressive and more communicative repertoire of organisation and articulation was born," said Schumacher.

He also said Hadid had created a new type of architectural image making, with multiple perspectives that created a depth later achieved and mimicked using computers. And he credited the architect with introducing "gradients" into architectural form-making.

Schumacher, who is one of the champions of Parametricism – a style of architecture that creates organic forms from computer algorithms and programs – said that her work had created new ways of thinking about and designing architectural spaces.

Port Authority headquarters, Antwerp
Port Authority headquarters, Antwerp

Iraqi-born Hadid was one of the most successful female architects in history, and was the first woman to receive the Royal Gold Medal for architecture in her own right.

Schumacher joined London-based Zaha Hadid Architects in 1988, just under a decade after Hadid created the firm. She previously worked with Rem Koolhaas' studio OMA.

Hadid met Koolhaas while studying at London's Architectural Association in the 1970s, and the two formed a lifelong friendship.

"I see her work not necessarily as an exciting form of Western architecture and a development of Western architecture, but really something fundamentally different," Koolhaas told Dezeen.

Science Museum, London
Science Museum, London

Nicholas Boyarsky, son of former AA director Alvin Boyarsky, said that Hadid had been instrumental in championing the importance of drawing in architectural education, even while she was a student.

"She was part of a mini-rebellion against the prevailing early 70s ethos in architectural education when many students did not really draw or design but talked instead of megastructural systems and processes, alternative lifestyles and so on," he told Dezeen. "Zaha and her friends went to Alvin and demanded to draw architecture, and Alvin set them up with an independent studio. I guess the die was cast from that point."

Schumacher became a partner at ZHA in 2002, and had been Hadid's co-director and senior designer in the years before her death.

In April, Zaha Hadid Architects announced it would carry on without Hadid.

Read an edited version of the Facebook post by Patrik Schumacher: