Zaha Hadid Architects Evolution

Zaha Hadid Architects Evolution
Author: McLening, Christian (15 February 2018)


‘Evolution’ was a curated exhibition that presented a critical examination of the agency of the tools, media, and processes of architectural design through a case study of the evolution of process at Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA). The extensive exhibition, and supporting catalogue, traced the practice’s journey from analogue to digital methods over the past forty years.
Working collaboratively with both ZHA and the Zaha Hadid Foundation, the exhibition drew from their extensive collection of archived models, drawings, and paintings to offer a critique of how the changing tools of the architect have influenced the designs process, materiality and outcomes. McLening worked with fellow researcher David Lund and Woody Yeo from ZHA to create a series of interviews with architects and modelmakers at the practice so as to enrich the lines of enquiry.
Employing the relational perspective of actor-network theory, the exhibition viewed tools and media as active agents in the design process; reframing the contribution of design tools such as models, drawings, and computers from being seen purely in terms of Giovanni’s ‘instruments of vision’ to being acknowledged as active partners in the architectural design process.
The research was disseminated through two galleries– one dedicated to the complete design archive of an early, pre-digital building project; the other to the practice’s contemporary digital design methodologies. A 15,000 word publication provided deeper contextualisation about the evolution of process illustrated by the artefacts on display. Through its original focus on the evolution of the design tools used at ZHA rather than its built outputs, the exhibition charted the architects’ changing relationship with the non-human participants of the design process from drawing, painting, and modelmaking, to the use of computer-aided design, generative coding, virtual reality and big data; revealing the active agency of design tools as collaborators in the creation of architectural designs.

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