Hadid’s design is the first architecture project to win the award and she is also the first woman to win the top prize.
The Heydar Aliyev Center is a 61 000m2 building complex in the Azerbaijani capital that houses a conference hall, gallery and museum.
It is named for Heydar Aliyev, who was president of Azerbaijan from 1993 to 2003.
Jury member Kim Colin, co-founder of Industrial Facility, says, ‘A great architect needs a great client, technology, the public, the landscape and the right time.
‘The jury felt that for Zaha’s office, this is a pinnacle moment in their portfolio, a sign of international maturity. The jury argued heatedly for and against, and then we finally agreed unanimously that the project deserves our utmost respect. This architecture should make us talk for years to come.’
Hadid’s project saw off six other shortlisted designs in the competition: The Portable Eye Examination Kit, by Andrew Bastawrous, Stewart Jordan, Dr Mario Giardini and Dr Iain Livingstone; the Prada S/S14 collection; Konstantin Grcic’s Pro Chair Family; the Drone Shadows project, by James Bridle/booktwo.org; the Seaboard Grand, by Roland Lamb and Hong-Yeul Eom; and the Volkswagon XL1 Car.
These projects were shortlisted from more than 70 nominated designs in the categories of architecture, digital, fashion, furniture, graphics, product and transport.
All of the nominated designs are on display in an exhibition at the Design Museum until 25 August 2014.
The winner of the Design Museum’s inaugural online Social Vote was Phonebloks, designed by Dave Hakkens.