Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum, today offered his congratulations to Dame Zaha Hadid, who has been awarded the Royal Institute of British Architects’ 2016 Royal Gold Medal.
Dame Zaha becomes the first woman to be the sole recipient of this prestigious prize, which is approved by Her Majesty The Queen and awarded to an individual or group who have had a significant influence in the advancement of architecture.
A globally renowned architect, she won commission to design a new Mathematics gallery which is opening at the Science Museum in 2016.
‘We are delighted on Dame Zaha’s behalf’ said Mr Blatchford. “With her mathematical background, she is a beacon of inspiration for young women. The sculptural designs for our new mathematics gallery set a new standard when it comes to crystallising abstract mathematical thinking into beautiful physical forms.”
Her diverse portfolio of work includes the Aquatics Centre that she designed for the London Olympics and China’s Guangzhou Opera House.
Dame Zaha said, ‘I am very proud to be awarded the Royal Gold Medal, in particular, to be the first woman to receive the honour in her own right.’
The new Mathematics gallery at the Science Museum has been made possible by the largest individual donation ever made to the museum from long-standing supporters of science, David and Claudia Harding.
At the launch of the gallery with the Hardings, Dame Zaha expressed her excitement at being a part of the project as ‘it connects ideas of complexity and curvature with science making it a science installation instead of an art installation.’
Dame Zaha was also the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, once again defying traditional and stereotypical expectations of what woman can achieve in architecture and science.
During a visit to the Science Museum, Dame Zaha talked about the battles woman face when pursuing science and mathematics, compared with men, with women comprising only 21% of full science professors (according to the US National Science Foundation).
She noted how her success has been an inspiration to young women: ‘when I go out to give a talk somewhere there are many girls who come to me. They want to be reassured that they actually can break that barrier and also do it with confidence.’
Next month the museum will celebrate Ada Lovelace Day (13th October), an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths, with a new exhibition exploring the remarkable story of mathematician Ada Lovelace. The exhibition brings together her portraits, letters and notes, alongside Charles Babbage‘s incredible calculating machines that she studied.
Sinéad Carroll is the External Affairs & Digital Team Assistant.