Zaha Hadid Speaks out about Austerity

via AN Blog

With the economic stability of Europe still uncertain, Dame Hadid has recently spoken out against ideas of austerity, warning the UK government that such a move would lead to poor quality projects for the country’s citizens.  Hadid told Kath Viner of The Guardian,  ”I think that austerity is used as a cliche because people don’t have ideas, they want to crib (old ones) to do bad stuff.  Schools, housing, hospitals – I think the government should invest in good housing.”   Hadid went on to explain, “”There needs to be investment. We need some sort of quality.  All the privileged can travel, see different worlds, not everyone can. I think it is important for people to have an interesting local nearby. Buildings need to do another job, enlighten people, space enlightens the same way as music art and technology.”

Hadid states that slashing budgets will lead to horrible developments such as the British buildings of the 1960s.  While it would be a detriment to cut all project budgets, if a metropolis’ restructuring plan implements stricter budgets in order to more evenly distribute funds for the good of the whole, such a budget can not be ignored.  Upon being asked about the cost of her projects, Hadid described her work as “not particularly expensive”; however, her latest Olympic Aquatic Center, which will be in high demand in a few weeks, was originally budgeted for 75 million British pounds and reached more than 250 million by completion date.

While we find Hadid’s words inspiring, we want to know your thoughts on if there can be a balance between implementing measures of austerity while still investing in quality architecture to shape cities and uplift society.


Cite: Cilento, Karen. "Zaha Hadid Speaks out about Austerity" 27 Jun 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 May 2015. <>
  • Samuel AB

    She’s not exactly known for her value engineering..

  • joel mexico

    But of course, it’s natural her reaction given the construction costs of her projects… she has to defend her income

    • zeca

      She want money.

  • bloob

    Our position as architects is ideologically jeopardized when it comes to questions of the economy. Of course we would like investment.

  • joel mexico

    But of course, it’s natural, she is only trying to defend her income given the project and construction costs of her projects

  • MilesKozatch

    Designing within set limits (i.e. context, program, building codes) leads to richer, more rounded solutions. I think deficit-cutting could push contemporary architects to explore new materials, construction methods, and set higher goals in terms of environmental efficiency and impact. a building’s capability to function productively on a relatively low monetary allowance could convince a federal client into procuring a larger investment during the construction process.

    • ahammad-al-muhaymin

      i couldn’t agree more…..very well said…..thanks

  • Justas Silkauskas

    I think It is a good use of being a public figure and speak of such things. Being observer and practice of personal work is two different things and little does it change the situation criticised by Dame Hadid.
    I think there are many great examples of housing projects across the Europe, especially in France, The Netherlands and Spain. And in this case not always you have to invent new systems or ways of managing projects for success, but just take the best of what is already done.

  • Ron Geyer

    Who wouldn’t love to see more money being spent, but it’s hard to hear from Dame Hadid and keep a straight face. It IS fair to urge public clients to release designers to pursue the kind of exploration that MilesKozatch suggests. Too often we’re charged to deliver conventional buildings with less-than-conventional budgets.

  • matty

    ridiculous. the notion that you can only do high-quality design with a nigh-unlimited budget is silly. constraints are often what give a design solution richness and focus.

    in the case of zaha hadid, i would submit that many of her designs would be more successful with a client that said, “no, you can’t do that. find a more economical way to express your idea.”

  • Danny

    Perhaps if people like Zaha paid their taxes in full like the rest of us and didnt exploit loopholes, the government wouldnt have to resort to austerity measures….

  • Ayman

    She is one of the best paragons in modern architecture who gave the birth of creativity…

    • Chris

      Assuming that she is, so what?

  • Ken

    I wonder how many “Schools, housing, hospitals” could have been built, renovated, or better funded with the 175M GBP construction budget overrun.

  • Ramiro

    Particular times like these, times of crisis, are when architecture needs to evolve, change and adapt to the actual situation.Architecs should be able to reach both economy and beauty in their proyects.If there is not much money to be spent, you have to design according to it.

  • Dario Corral

    I seriously doubt that may architects worldwide have the same vision on expenses. I’m not saying she’s a bad architect I just think she needs to cut back somehow, I’m pretty sure each of Zaha’s buildings could had been given to less expensive and with the same quality (or better) of design.

  • Ulas

    I don’t think there is a regular ratio between high budget and good design.

  • ulas

    But some star architects design some foolish star project in china and in middle east that we can call it waste of budget.

  • Charkitect

    I think mistakes made in 1960′s public architecture around the world will not be repeated just because governments have less money. Those lessons are still remembered well, they weren’t about cost, they were about ideals and reality. That part of her argument does not hold up.

  • Ted

    Let’s face it. Architecture is built by the rich. Every penny architects can get them to spend is a penny going to manufacturers, builders, and planners, ie the little people. So I support big budgets. It’s one way to pay back the little people for all the money the rich stole from their pensions over the last 30 years, if they’re lucky enough to even have one.

  • Rotsen

    Good design should not be thought as to be dependent of extraordinary budgets like Mrs. Hadid seems to suggest. Like other readers have noted, I think austerity can lead to new and rich ideas in architectural theory and practice.
    Then again, when you are used to exceed a project’s budget by more than 340%, I can see why you would think this way.

  • Robert I.

    The wise people are the one who can look at the past mistakes (cf 60’s cheap development) and not reproduce them. Today we still have the result of choices that has been done 50 years ago!!!!!!!!! Architecture can’t be put in the austerity measure because it’s for many decades to go. And very often many generations have to support the bad choices.

  • Walt

    “…a balance between implementing measures of austerity while still investing in quality architecture to shape cities and uplift society.”
    Was there a “balance” achieved in the boom years just prior to this depression ? If the answer is yes, then society should be very well “uplifted” indeed.

  • Andrew

    Quality buildings are not building on cost. The impact of austerity should not deter the creativity of mankind, instead a stimulus for more creative solutions.

  • David

    I think such an economic crysis is welcomed every now and then. It’s like fasting, in cleans out the inefficient companies.
    So, if there is a crysis, small offices could beat bigger, well-established offices because the small ones are more flexible and more innovative.
    Also, because there are less projects competition is higher and the end-result in design has better quality.
    If everyone has a job, nobody needs to excel so there is no evolution.