By John Lee.
Zaha Hadid has reportedly been chosen to design the new £630-million Iraqi Parliament building in Baghdad.
According to Architects Journal, Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) landed the project despite coming third in a design contest for the prestigious building, which was won by London-based Assemblage. It is understood that the company has been working on the project since at least the start of this year.
The high-profile practice is already designing the towering Central Bank of Iraq, and is also rumoured to have been approached to design a new Iraq National Museum.
Controversy arose after it emerged the competition client was still in discussions with ZHA shortly after the winning teams were announced. A competition pledge to exhibit the winning schemes has also been abandoned.
The practice declined to comment on the latest rumours but Assemblage and Capita Symonds – which was placed second – both confirmed they had not been contacted by the client since the competition’s conclusion.
Competition judge and former RIBA president Sunand Prasad said:
"Obviously we selected a winner, therefore we would like to have seen it [design the building] but the client reserved the right to pick any of the top three and they have gone ahead and done that.
"I really regret that the exhibition, discussion and publication of the designs hasn’t happened and I would urge those involved to do it."
Peter Besley – whose practice Assemblage received £160,000 for the top prize – commented:
"Given what happened in Cardiff, [where ZHA’s competition-winning opera house was abandoned] people are very surprised Zaha did not step aside. We are disappointed, but have moved on to other things."
(Source: Architects Journal)