Zaha Hadid has now officially signed a deal to design the Iraq Parliament building in Baghdad, despite only coming third in the original design competition. BD Online reports that Hadid attended a signing ceremony held at the Iraqi Embassy in London last month, finally bringing a close to the controversial process.
The original competition run by the Royal Institute of British Architects at the request of the Iraqi Government was won by Assemblage, however shortly after the win it became apparent that the Iraqi Council of Representatives had other ideas, as they remained in discussion with Hadid's Practice. Under the rules of the competition, the client is under no obligation to follow through with the winning design.
More on the controversy after the break
In some ways, Hadid is the natural choice for the design as she is an Iraqi citizen and was born in Baghdad. However this has not stopped many from criticizing the Council of Representatives for its lack of transparency, with Assemblage director Peter Besley saying that his practice was "frozen out" almost immediately after their win. He said that the practice was never officially informed that they would not get the commission, although he added that he had been told in private some months ago. Besley also confirmed that Assemblage had at least received its $250,000 prize money.
The secrecy over Hadid's design has also come under fire, with Iraqi architectural critic Ihsan Fethi saying that despite numerous requests, he has yet to see the designs. "Of course this is contrary to the principle of transparency and it is absolutely unacceptable for us Iraqi architects, or any Iraqi citizen to that matter, to be prevented from seeing what their Parliament would look like. We absolutely have no idea," he said in an email sent by the Iraqi Architects Society.
Those who have seen Hadid's design, though, are critical. One un-named juror for the competition called the design "very convoluted," adding that although the competition asked for a design which was "all about how MPs meet their constituents and how people get together," Hadid's designs "threw everyone apart" instead. In the original judging for the competition, Hadid's design scored 76%, while Assemblage had 88%.
Nevertheless, the new agreement draws an official close to the issue, which - providing the process goes smoothly from this point forward - will give Hadid her second building in her native country, after she was also selected to design the Central Bank of Iraq in 2012.
Story via BD Online