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Zaha Hadid: There Should Be No End To Experimentation

19 Jan 2017

Zaha Hadid: There Should Be No End To Experimentation

‘With experimentation, you think you’re going to find out one thing, but you actually discover something else ... more than you bargain for’ Zaha Hadid

The Serpentine Galleries and Zaha Hadid Design are proud to bring their critically acclaimed exhibition of early paintings and drawings by the late Zaha Hadid to Hong Kong. First conceived with Hadid herself, this “revelation” (London Evening Standard) of a show has been newly expanded with additional archival material. The exhibition is the closing presentation for ArtisTree, the arts space in the heart of the city’s Taikoo Place by exhibition presenting partner Swire Properties, before it is relocated to a new address.

While Zaha Hadid (1950-2016) is rightly regarded as an architectural pioneer and visionary, this unique Serpentine presentation also reveals her as an artist with drawing at the very heart of her work. The work includes paintings, calligraphic drawings and rarely seen private notebooks with sketches that show her complex thoughts about architecture’s forms and relationships.

The exhibition, brought to Hong Kong in association with J.P. Morgan Private Bank, focuses on Hadid’s early works before her first building (Vitra Fire Station, Germany) was erected in 1993. Ranging from the 1970s to the early 1990s, the paintings and drawings on show include Hadid’s first internationally acclaimed project, The Peak (1982-3), awarded first prize in a design competition for a leisure club in the Hong Kong hills – marking a critical moment in Hadid’s career.

Drawing and painting were fundamental to Hadid’s practice. Influenced by Malevich, Tatlin and Rodchenko, she used calligraphic drawings as the main method for visualising her architectural ideas. For Hadid, painting was a design tool, and abstraction an investigative structure for imagining architecture and its relationship to the world we live in. These works on paper and canvas unravel an architecture that Hadid was determined to realise in built structures and that was later seen in the characteristic lightness and weightlessness of her buildings. Conceived as Hadid’s manifesto of a utopian world, the show reveals her all-encompassing visions of space and reality.

“This survey of Zaha Hadid’s experimental 2D work is a revelation ... Hadid’s paintings and drawings, which sit somewhere between art, architecture and design, compellingly fuse fantasy and science”
Evening Standard

“This exhibition provides an unparalleled insight into the creative process of the architect’s early years, revealing how a strange calligraphy was incubated in her notebooks, an esoteric universe of dots, dashes and swirls, before leaping off the page into working drawings, and wall-sized paintings”
The Guardian

Technology and innovation have always been central to the work of Zaha Hadid Architects, and many of Hadid’s paintings prefigure the potential of these digital processes. Connecting directly with the individual paintings in this exhibition, four experimental virtual reality experiences have been specially developed in collaboration with Google Arts & Culture, offering a dynamic and immersive insight into Hadid’s architectural vision.

Building on this commitment to technology, a dedicated mobile tour will also be available as part of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ ongoing digital engagement programme at the Serpentine Galleries. Available through visitors’ mobile phones, the mobile tour offers ArtisTree visitors an interactive gallery experience including stories, audio clips and additional drawings from the Hadid collection. In addition, a screening room in the exhibition featuring exclusive footage from the Zaha Hadid archive, will also be made available. 

These interactive components are supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies through its Bloomberg Connects programme, a global initiative that helps cultural institutions innovate and engage audiences by leveraging digital technology.

Marking the first presentation of Hadid’s early works in China, this timely homage first opened in 2016 to record London audiences at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, extended and renovated in 2013 by Zaha Hadid Architects.

Hans Ulrich Obrist, Serpentine Artistic Director and Yana Peel, CEO said: “We are honoured to bring this expanded exhibition of our friend and long-term collaborator Zaha Hadid to Hong Kong – the very place that launched her reputation as a global architectural pioneer. Her declaration that ‘there should be no end to experimentation’ has not only become a mantra for the Serpentine Galleries but is the basis on which this showcase of Zaha’s visionary talent and legacy was conceived in her own lifetime.”

Guy Bradley, Chief Executive of Swire Properties, said: “Swire Properties is a long-term supporter of the arts, and we are delighted to partner with Serpentine Galleries and Zaha Hadid Design for the first time to bring Zaha Hadid’s visionary work to Hong Kong, our home market. Zaha left an indelible mark on modern architecture, and her experimental style resonates closely with our own approach of taking bold steps to transform spaces.” 

Don Taylor, Director of Office at Swire Properties, said: “We’re very proud to present Zaha Hadid’s rarely seen works at ArtisTree before it moves to a new home. We felt it only fitting that her achievements be showcased as the finale programme for our much-loved event space ArtisTree at Taikoo Place, which has brought an extraordinary array of artistic and cultural events to the Hong Kong community.”

For press information contact:

Nancy Groves,, +44 (0)20 7298 1544

V Ramful,, +44 (0)20 7298 1519

Press images at                      

Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, London W2 3XA

Serpentine Sackler Gallery, West Carriage Drive, Kensington Gardens,

London W2 2AR

Wayne Leung,, +852 2844 3038

Swire Properties

Image Credit:

Metropolis, 2014

Copyright Zaha Hadid Foundation

Notes to Editors

About Zaha Hadid

Born in Baghdad, Zaha Hadid (1950-2016) studied mathematics at the American University of Beirut before studying architecture in 1972 at the Architectural Association in London. By 1979 she had established her own practice in London – Zaha Hadid Architects – garnering a reputation across the world for her ground-breaking theoretical works, including The Peak in Hong Kong (1983), the Kurfürstendamm in Berlin (1986) and the Cardiff Bay Opera House in Wales (1994). Hadid was a Pritzker Laureate and had recently received the RIBA Gold Medal. Her first realised building was the Vitra Fire Station in Weil am Rhein, Germany, in 1993.


Hadid’s vision redefined architecture for the 21st century and captured imaginations across the globe. Her legacy endures within the DNA of the design studio she created. Working with office partner Patrik Schumacher for three decades, Zaha Hadid Architects’ work arranges form and space into breath-taking spatial compositions. The MAXXI: Italian National Museum of 21st Century Arts in Rome, the London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympic Games and the Heydar Aliyev Centre in Baku are built manifestos of ZHA’s quest for complex, fluid space.

ZHA’s work of the past 30 years was the subject of critically-acclaimed exhibitions at New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 2006, London’s Design Museum in 2007, the Palazzo della Ragione, Padua, Italy in 2009 and the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2011, the DAC Copenhagen in 2013 and the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg in 2015.

About Zaha Hadid Design

As an architect and designer, Zaha Hadid’s work explored spatial concepts at all scales from the city to individual product - sculptural jewellery and limited edition furniture pieces, homeware items and fashion accessories - as well as interior, exhibition and set design commissions. Under the lead of Woody Yao and Maha Kutay, ZHD was established in 2006 to implement the latest technological and material innovations in collaboration with the world’s most respected brands.


ZHD also features a gallery space arranged over two floors which hosts an ever-changing programme of exhibitions and collaborations. The ZHD Gallery regularly showcases the work of emerging designers, young artists and innovative fabricators, as well as it hosts a variety of collateral events.  

About Serpentine Galleries

With an international reputation for excellence, the Serpentine Galleries in the heart of London’s Kensington Gardens attracts up to 1.2 million visitors a year to its world famous exhibition, architecture, design, education and public programmes, providing learning through art for people of all ages and backgrounds. The Serpentine had a long relationship with Zaha Hadid, which began in 1996 when she joined as a Trustee of the Serpentine Gallery. Her first structure in London was the inaugural Serpentine Pavilion in 2000. It was followed by a light installation, Lilas, in 2007. In 2013, she completed the extension for the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, one of Zaha Hadid Architects’ first permanent buildings in central London. She also participated in the Serpentine’s Interview Marathon in 2006 and 89Plus Marathon in 2013.

About Swire Properties

Swire Properties develops and manages commercial, retail, hotel and residential properties, with a focus on mixed-use developments in prime locations at major mass transportation intersections. Swire’s investment portfolio in Hong Kong comprises Taikoo Place, Cityplaza and Pacific Place as well as investments in mainland China, the US and Singapore.

As a keen supporter of arts and culture, Swire Properties introduced ArtisTree, a unique venue for visual and performing arts, to Taikoo Place in 2008, to make diverse arts and cultural events accessible to local communities. Since its launch, the 20,000 sq ft space has made a significant contribution to Hong Kong’s arts scene, with landmark events including the inaugural Vivienne Westwood A Life in Fashion exhibition, The World of Tim Burton, Outside the Box | Frank Gehry exhibition and Building M+: The Museum and Architecture Collection. To facilitate the ongoing redevelopment of Taikoo Place, ArtisTree will be relocated to Cambridge House, re-envisioned as a dynamic space with a programme focusing on performing arts by both local and international artists. The new space will be completed in mid-2017.

Taikoo Place is recognised as one of Hong Kong’s best-planned business hubs, offering over 5 million sq ft of prime commercial space for local and multinational corporations. Apart from ArtisTree, a wide range of premium business and leisure amenities are provided in the area, including serviced apartments TAIKOO PLACE APARTMENTS, the landscaped garden Taikoo Park, and restaurants and cafes.  Also located in Taikoo Place is blueprint, a co-working hub that target small businesses entrepreneurs as well as corporates looking for flexible workspace. 

About J.P. Morgan Private Bank

J.P. Morgan is a global leader in financial services to corporations, governments, for-profit and not-for-profit institutions and wealthy individuals. Through the Private Bank at J.P. Morgan, the firm delivers customized wealth management advice and solutions to wealthy individuals and their families, leveraging its broad capabilities in investing, family office management, philanthropy, credit, fiduciary services and special advisory services to help its clients advance toward their own particular goals. For more than 150 years, the Private Bank’s comprehensive and integrated product offering, commitment to innovation and integrity, and focus on placing the interests of its clients first and foremost have made J.P. Morgan an advisor of choice to people of significant wealth around the world.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies

Bloomberg Philanthropies works in more than 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2016, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed over half a billion dollars. For more information, please visit or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter @BloombergDotOrg.