Zaha Hadid: Vision to Reality

By Michael
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What a passionate life and career.

I’m lucky to have crossed the path of Zaha Hadid early on her way to become one of today’s most acclaimed architects.

Back in the mid-1980’s at the architecture department at the University in Stuttgart, Germany she gave an evening lecture and showed us stunning pictures of her visionary building designs and sculptures. I was there attending the presentation to build my culture and compliment a scientific education I enjoyed during the day.

One of the projects Zaha Hadid presented was her first internationally celebrated work, the 1983 first prize winner with the design of “The Peak”. It’s a luxurious leisure club in Hongkong, where she was quoted referring to it as “architecture as a knife cutting through the site.”

We were all blown away from the boldness of her work – so extremely advanced that until then these projects remained unbuilt images and models, as nobody dared to construct them.

peak IMG_0658 597_zaha_hadid_the_world_2

Around 1993 my wife, who’s also an interior architect, brought me along to visit Madame Hadid’s first fully constructed building.

The furniture and design firm Vitra had engaged her to build a fire station as part of a museum and seminar center in Weil am Rhein, close to the country triangle Switzerland, France and Germany. It was so much fun to walk through the building and to experience spaces at extreme angles and curves. I recall that being inside this building lent a particular sentiment far different from the usual 90° feeling in a normal room. I was impressed.

hadid images fire_station

Thereafter I lost track of Zaha Hadid and – poufff – by 2004 she had become the first female recipient of the Pritzker prize and transitioned to an architectural celebrity.

And she is still producing those visionary designs which now are realized into totally impressive buildings – one after the other. Her approach to architecture has been described as the one of a painter who uses computers.

Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA), her London-based firm, was founded in 1980 and now employs 300 professionals. Their challenge is immense: taking Mme Hadid’s ideas into a reality made of steel, glass, concrete and composite materials, while taking into account physics and engineering constraints, within the economic boundaries of timing, budget and quality control.

You might have seen the recent press announcement about ZHA extending the use of Digital Project (DP). ZHA is using a Building Information Management solution with CATIA as the core design engine from Dassault Systèmes’ partner Gehry Technologies.

Gehry_global_logo_ 05 nov 2008

What started as just a trial software usage at ZHA (offered by her friend and fellow architect Frank Gehry) to let her team explore the possibilities of 3D design has concluded in their decision to rely on Digital Project as the system to help them managing their extremely complex projects. This includes capturing original designs with extreme curves and surfaces into the CATIA modeler, building 3D assemblies fit for manufacturing, and managing changes efficiently all the way from idea to delivery.




Why is this exciting news?

I believe that ZHA’s commitment confirms the trend that after leading architectural powerhouses such as SOM (e.g. Al-Rajhi Bank Headquarters in Riyadh) and ARUP (e.g. Birds nest Olympic stadium in Beijing) started to rely on DP as an end-to-end solution to support architectural project delivery, now even the explicitly artistic representatives of their genre such as Zaha Hadid select it as master tool and trust it to capture their architectural vision to become reality. Is this the resolution of antagonism between art and technology for architecture?

What do you think is next?


P.S.1.: Discover Dassault Systemes Digital Project Solution

P.S.2.: From the many videos presenting Zaha Hadid’s projects I selected this one

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Bridging the Gap Between 2D and 3D

By Cliff
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2D-3D-peopleYears ago, I took the Myers-Briggs assessment test, which (as many of you know) evaluates your personality type. Somehow my assessment went wrong, and instead of the normal four letter assessment (i.e. “ENFP”), my assessment read: “3D”???

I have worked in 3D my entire career and have a hard time understanding anyone who would choose working in 2D over 3D. However, I realize that most designers and artists still prefer working in 2D. I’m assuming most reading this blog are “3D types” though.

At a previous employer, years ago, I worked closely with a 2D artist. He was exceptional, and I was amazed at what he could produce in Adobe Photoshop. When he needed content from me, he would always ask me to produce 2D images of my 3D models, which were never correct the first time, and had to be redone. I was always trying to show him the advantages of learning 3D himself, but he wanted none of it.

I often speak with many 2D artists and designers who will admit they are intimated by 3D, and that they would rather fake 2D to resemble 3D instead of working in 3D.

Most designers and artists still prefer working in 2D.

In a recent post, I discussed how I believe 3D will be easier to understand for the next generation, and more will be willing to work in 3D. Part of what we do here at 3DVIA, is to bridge that gap between 2D and 3D content creators (3DVIA Composer, 3DVIA Shape, etc.). Years ago, 3D was too difficult and too expensive for many 2D designers to even try. Today, I believe that is changing.

Last week we introduced 3DVIA for Adobe Photoshop, a plugin for Photoshop users to easily import 3D models from I also created a video showing three examples of how using 3D is much quicker than 2D, even in Photoshop!

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So, let’s reach out to those intimidated by 3D, and show them how simple is can be, and the benefits of using 3D. And maybe, just maybe, next time they will have a split (2D-3D) personality.

Are you in?



#ECF09 Day 1: Dassault Systèmes Goes Organic

By Kate
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I’ve dashed into my room after the ECF keynote and press conference to blog while impressions are fresh.

The most succulent morsel so far is V6 organic architecture.

The idea is that rather than having to adapt to a predefined PLM configuration, you just download models to support whatever particular service and projects you have going on at the time. Easy-peasy, like kids say.

Along the buffet line between the salad and salmon I chatted with Bernard Charles about organic architecture. He smiled and told me it stems out of a discussion with GUESS. Hmmm, I’d like to learn more about that . . .

But meanwhile, the good news is that this goes into Beta later this month. Bernard referred to “it” as an ENOVIA that’s online and subscription based. He said Dassault Systèmes wants it to be as easy as connecting to Gmail.

And . . . a Dassault Systèmes-developed social innovation technology internally referred to as swYm will be part of the offer.

Which reminds me of one of Bernard’s keynote stories:

If a mechanical engineer is asked to solve a problem, he’s going to come up with a mechanical solution.

If an electrical engineer is asked to solve a problem, she’s going to come up with an electrical solution.

Only by working together can they come up with a hybrid solution.

The message is we need heterogeneous communities to truly innovate and build a bright future.

Dassault Systèmes hopes that ENOVIA online will provide the framework and applications to make it happen. But the innovating is up to you.

And as one of my friends said on Facebook last week:

The brain is like a parachute. It works best when you open it.

Isn’t that gorgeous?

More soon . . .



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