It's not often you get the chance to get up close to the unofficial Queen of modern architecture. We took that opportunity at the unveiling of the stunning Opus building at a Park lane hotel
First came the music. Stirring stuff, it was, all strings and piano solos. And then she arrived, walking slowly through the assembled ragatag journalists to the stage at the front of the room. Zaha Hadid, in the flesh – resplendent in a fuchsia silk jacket, hair freshly done and a shiny black sequins belt.
The cameras flashed and Zaha, fully aware of being centre of attention, managed to pout and appear terribly self-conscious at the same time.
As for the crowd, a multinational assortment of suited men mostly. Zaha had obviously given strict instructions to her normally over-trendy, and over-populated, entourage to “blend in”. I’m pretty sure I spotted a few Hoxton mullets and over-sized specs in the crowd at the back, though.
Unfortunately, the conference got off to a bad start when the strategically-placed metal mound on a podium that was, of course, a representation of the new building, was knocked off its perch by a member of the client team.
But then came Zaha’s turn and what high spirits she was in. The lucky gal got a round of applause before she’d even said anything. She promised she would not go on too long because Christos, the project manager and her wing man here, had been rehearsing all week. Christos, meanwhile, merely blushed and shuffled in his seat, knowing he’d almost certainly have to wait a while to hear the sound of his own voice.
“What struck me,” she began, “was that it would be interesting to do something other than a high rise in Dubai.” Good stuff, Zaha, original thinking and all that. After this, I admit, I got a bit lost. There was a lot of architect-speak for what, essentially, I understood to mean – 'we wanted to give the blokes in the offices nice views.'
Meanwhile, constantly changing images were whooshing across the screen behind her head but so far we had only been shown sketches, not the sexy computer images she is renound for. This, she explained, was to delay the ecstasy factor. “Y’know, spoil the fun,” she added. “That’s why they call me Zaha spoil-the-fun Hadid.” Christos merely stared wistfully at the audience.