Zaha Hadid @ Institut du Monde Arabe

Architect Zaha Hadid's mobile art container has been donated by Chanel to the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris. Having travelled the world, the pavilion is currently showcasing an exhibition of Zaha Hadid's work within its walls, and then will be used by the Institut du Monde Arabe to house contemporary art from Arab countries.

As the first woman to have been awarded the Pritzker Prize, the English architect of Iraqi origin is seen as pushing the boundaries of urban architecture and is known for her fluid shapes and curving structures, often juxtaposing intricate interlaced forms with the imposing buildings they make up.  

Following on from the Guggenheim New York and the Museum of 20th Century Art in Rome, here the Institut du Monde Arabe honours Hadid with a retrospective of her work with the exhibition "Zaha Hadid, Une Architecture" - her first solo exhibition in France, housed in the structure created by the architect herself, as the inaugural show for the Mobile Art series in the grounds of the institute.  

The futuristic pavilion, with vast curves and a shiny white lacquered finish, displays over 30 years of activity from the architect and her team including models of projects already completed or to be completed in the future, as well as 3D video renderings of the creations. 

We see vast and futuristic towers built for the Arab world, including an arts centre in Abu Dhabi, the Nile Tower in Cairo and the Signature Towers in Dubai, and equally impressive structures for Europe such as the recently completed CMA CGM in Marseille or the Spiral Tower of the University of Barcelona. There are also displays which deconstruct the building and show the evolution of the shape of certain structures around elements such as its core and its volume. 

The experience of visiting the structure, and of looking down onto the miniature models from a God-like stance and seeing the futuristic animated videos inside makes the visitor feel as if they have been on a space-age journey of discovery and is a somewhat other-worldly experience aboard this Star Wars-esque vessel... and yet all this is just two minutes away from the grey pavements and roads of Paris that border the Seine.  Until 30th October, 2011

1 rue des Fosses Saint Bernard
Place Mohammed V
75005 Paris 
Until 30th October, 2011
Tues-Fri 10am-6pm, until 7pm on weekends and bank holidays
Entry €7 

All photos copyright Kim Laidlaw Adrey 


  1. Two points here I think. This structure is not a recent creation, but instead was initially commissioned by Chanel to expose the creations of artists working on versions of the brand's handbags. It has been on a world tour since 2008, and has already been seen in Hong Kong, Tokyo and New York.

    That it is now being used to present the creations of Hadid herself is interesting, although for me it just underlines my opinion of her as an egotistical and self-serving architect (but then aren't they all???)

  2. Hi James,
    Thank you for your comments. I have updated the text to reflect your first point - thanks very much for pointing this omission out.
    As to your second point, there does seem to be a slight commercial angle to the show. It does feel like a bit of a hard-sell on Hadid's work - but it is still an interesting exhibition (or maybe exhibition isn't the right word - perhaps it should be showcase) nonetheless and I think you're spot on with your comment that it comes across as self-serving, but then, indeed, as you rightly say, aren't they all? And I think perhaps that, at least from my perspective, whereas I don't bat an eyelid to a private gallery solo show which has commercial aims, this seems to be more self-serving. But is this the case? Or is it just that we're not used to seeing solo architecture shows, at least not of living architects? Or is that just me?
    Thanks again for stopping by.