There was a lot of emphasis on architecture. There was a renewed pride in the structure of the city, and the ideas of change, liberation, and freedom of this era were critical to my development. When I was a child I came to Europe every summer with my parents, and my father made sure I went to every museum, mosque and cathedral in sight! I remember going to see the Great Mosque in Cordoba when I was seven years old. It left a tremendous impression on me. Before coming to London to study at the Architectural Association, I studied mathematics at the American University in Beirut. Geometry has a tremendous connection to architecture – even more so now with the advanced computer scripts we use in the office.
What is your source of inspiration for your designs?
People ask me, “Why are there no straight lines, why no 90 degrees in your architecture?” This is because life is not made in a grid. If you think of landscape, it’s not even and regular. People go to places of natural beauty and find them very inspirational. I think that one can do that in architecture – so we use the natural landscapes and rhythms of the surrounding urban environments to develop buildings that have a direct relationship with their context.
What else influences your designs?
I think what is new in our generation is a greater level of social complexity. One of the great challenges for contemporary urbanism and architecture is to move toward architecture for the 21st century: an architecture of flexible specialization that addresses complex work and life processes and the much greater fluidity in careers and corporate organizations.
Where did your inspiration to teach come from, and how do you get the most from your pupils?
I remember discovering that teaching was also a learning experience for me. It’s not only about what I know, but what my students know as well. It’s reciprocal. You never know what can come out of students when they’re given the opportunity. They just need to be given confidence to do their best, with a degree of freedom.
Are you working on any interesting projects for the future?
Learn more about Zaha Hadid