Zaha Hadid “Topples Winner” to Design Parliament

By John Lee.

Zaha Hadid has won the RIBA-run international competition to design a new parliament complex in Iraq, despite coming third in the original contest, reports Building Design.

According to the report, the deal has been shrouded in secrecy with leading Iraqi architectural critic Ihsan Fethi complaining that he has yet to see what Hadid’s design looks like.

In an email sent by the Iraqi Architects Society, he said:

I personally tried in vain so many times to even have a quick look at the design with no success.

“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.”

The competition was originally won by a team led by London-based practice Assemblage, with Capita Symonds coming in second place.

Assemblage director Peter Besley confirmed it had been paid its $250,000 first prize but added that discussions between it and the Iraqi authorities dried up soon after it was told it had won in August 2012. He told BD:

“We were completely frozen out. We have never been officially told we were not getting the commission. Like many things in Iraq, they start off on the right foot but don’t carry it with the transparency that’s required.”

The $1-billion project is to be built on a 50-hectare site at the disused Al Muthana airport in Baghdad.

(Source: Building Design)

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