In a recent article for the Guardian, starchitect Zaha Hadid has this to say about her plans for a human rights institute in Cambodia:
"I think architects can sometimes influence the situation for the better [...] We are making cultural institutions, which are open for the people." Seems she's changed her tune since February, when she told the same newspaper (in an article labor controversies surrounding her Qatar stadium) that human rights violations are "not my duty as an architect to look at." Perhaps the distinction is between the "ability" to make change for the better and the "duty" to avoid deplorable working conditions?
A little background: the Sleuk Rith Institute in Phnom Penh is kind of an odd project for Hadid, not only because it's a pretty large departure from her colorless blob futurism (she describes it as "a warmer, softer mood") but also because it's a megastructure dedicated to human rights, which is not, uh, her strong suit.
Of late her name has been tied to a string of ethical controversies, including forced evictions in Azerbaijan (to make room for the construction of her Heydar Aliyev building), deplorable labor conditions in Qatar (where her stadium is being built), and Olympic venues that are, in the words of petitioning architects, "overwhelmingly large for the context." That's not even mentioning the fact that she's got a lawsuit going against a critic.
Anyway, the renderings are pretty spectacular:
· The Sleuk Rith Institute: Zaha Hadid's soft hymn to Cambodia's fallen [Guardian]
· Zaha Hadid, of All People, Will Design a Human Rights Institute [Curbed National]
· All Zaha! posts [Curbed National]