31 October 1950 – 31 March 2016
The architect's niece, also an architect, recalls her aunt's warm presence, her great drive, and the inspiration of her work
Zaha walked into our lives in the late 60s when my brother Hussein and I were five and six. She had come to Beirut to study mathematics at the American University there. Our parents had just divorced, which was a relatively rare occurrence back then. From the minute Zaha appeared, we felt loved and protected. She brought Zaha magic with her: love, laughter, fun, music, dance and close friends who remain her friends to this day. She would spend hours teaching us how to draw, how to use the colouring pencils – tilt them to colour in, how you could blunt the tip to shade in or sharpen it to have a bold, razor-sharp edge. That was long before she became an architect.
She taught us that life is best when you build bridges between people, and not walls