2016 update: The amended version of Zaha Hadid’s plans have now also been scrapped in favour of a new model designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. The new design will still come with a hefty price tag of 153bn yen (£825m), however this is a drastic reduction in cost when compared to Hadid’s original design proposal, which would have cost in excess of 252bn yen – giving it the controversial accolade of being the most expensive stadium ever to be built.
Starchitect Zaha Hadid cut an interview on BBC Radio 4 short following a disagreement with presenter Sarah Montague.
An interview intended to discuss her winning the 2016 RIBA Royal Gold Medal quickly descended into the British-Iraqi architect fiercely defending her Qatar World Cup stadium against allegations of worker deaths and denying the spiralling costs of her proposed Tokyo Olympic stadium.
Hadid has been announced as the 2016 recipient of the RIBA Royal Gold Medal, making her the first female architect to be awarded considered one of the most prestigious accolades within the profession. However, a little taken back at the questions that the BBC asked, Dame Zaha Hadid said that there had not been a “single problem in the stadium in Qatar” in response to Sarah Montague’s questions regarding the alleged 1,200 migrant worker deaths at the Al-Wakrah stadium for the 2022 football Qatar World Cup.
Zaha responded “It is absolutely untrue; there are no deaths on our site whatsoever. I sued someone in the press for it. You should check your facts.”
Last week heard reports that Zaha had made the decision not to proceed with her bid to construct the Olympic stadium in Tokyo after the scrapping of her original design, which was met with public and professional protest over the £2bn construction costs.
“I didn’t pull out of the Japanese project,” Hadid corrected, “It’s a very serious story. It’s a scandal. We won this competition three years ago, it was an international competition entered by many Japanese architects and we won it.”
The interview ended abruptly when Zaha concluded “Don’t ask me a question if you don’t want me to answer. Let’s stop this conversation right now.”
The Qatari government say that the very serious allegations of 1,200 worker deaths since the country were announced as hosts of the next world cup are categorically untrue. Others argue that the deaths are directly linked to the current construction boom as a result of the pending World Cup, and therefore deaths on projects such as infrastructure and hotels should be included when monitoring world cup fatalities. Either way, Zaha confirmed there have been no deaths on her site.
Listen to the short but heated interview below: