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Dame Zaha Hadid is the first female to receive The Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) highest honour, The Royal Gold Medal.

Hadid continues to lead the fray for women in the industry having already become the first female to receive architecture’s highest honour in 2004, The Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Conceived in 1848, The Royal Gold Medal for architecture has been awarded annually by RIBA on behalf of the British monarch for over 150 years and recognises the substantial contribution from an individual or group to international architecture. The award is given for those with a distinguished body of work, which for Hadid includes a portfolio filled with a diverse range of buildings, including a project in Brisbane, as well as furniture pieces, car and boat concepts, and clothing designs. (See a sample in image carousel above) 

RIBA President and chair of the selection committee, Jane Duncan, says that Hadid is a formidable and globally-influential force in architecture.

“Highly experimental, rigorous and exacting, her work from buildings to furniture, footwear and cars, is quite rightly revered and desired by brands and people all around the world,” she explains.

“I am delighted Zaha will be awarded the Royal Gold Medal in 2016 and can’t wait to see what she and her practice will do next.”

Commenting on her award, Hadid says she was proud to be the first woman to receive the honour in her own right and that although she is seeing an increasing amount of female architects, a variety of gender-specific challenges still remain for women in the architecture industry.

An excerpt from her media release below:

“We now see more established female architects all the time. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Sometimes the challenges are immense. There has been tremendous change over recent years and we will continue this progress. This recognition is an honour for me and my practice, but equally, for all our clients. It is always exciting to collaborate with those who have great civic pride and vision. Part of architecture’s job is to make people feel good in the spaces where we live, go to school or where we work - so we must be committed to raising standards. Housing, schools and other vital public buildings have always been based on the concept of minimal existence – that shouldn’t be the case today. Architects now have the skills and tools to address these critical issues.”

Harry Seidler is the only Australian to have received the honour since its conception, awarded The Royal Gold Medal in 1996.