Being vulnerable

Zaha Hadid in Cincinnati

  • Bhaswar Mallick University of Cincinnati


The digital turn revolutionizing ways of construing, analyzing and disseminating information has brought the focus on architectural techniques – how they inform, generate and communicate. A globalized world is also increasingly influenced by the same agendas, publications and images, while being mindful of a visual bias, misrepresentation, and overt reliance. As such it is essential now, more than ever before, to define the scope of architectural techniques as an instrument driving the design process and representing positions of architecture and architects in society. If Zaha Hadid is a relevant architect famous for her typical drawing techniques generating a unique architecture, the realization of Rosenthal Center of Contemporary Arts at Cincinnati established her credibility for realizing in built form the excitement her drawings promised. This paper aims at revealing the ambiguities, triumphs and compromises, that architectural techniques bear witnesses to, through Zaha Hadid’s Contemporary Arts Center project.

The research stems from a narrative commentary of the design process, as witnessed through the various drawings, paintings, physical and digital models published in relation to the project. Each of these representations, in each stage were described, and their relations to the immediately previous and later representation commented. As a written account describing the evolution of the design emerged, it was compared with the published objectives of the clients at various stages of the process, and the architect’s justifications published after completion. A visit to the building was undertaken, and an account of the experience was compared to the intentions and achievements claimed. Ethical dilemmas will be revealed in the process that show the vulnerabilities of the Architect and her technique, and strategies that she adopts to accommodate the same. It will show how design processes have an inherent ethical vulnerability, and how Hadid’s admittance of the issue and her response to that is instructive.


KEYWORDS: Globalization, Digital turn, Ethics, Instrumentality, Design process.

How to Cite
Mallick, B. (2018). Being vulnerable. ARCC Conference Repository.