24/09/2015 00:01 BST | Updated 23/09/2016 06:12 BST

Architect Zaha Hadid 'Very Proud' Of Royal Gold Medal

Renowned architect Zaha Hadid has said she is "very proud" to have become the first woman in her own right to win the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture.

Hadid was personally approved by the Queen for the 2016 award, which is presented by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) to a person or group who significantly influences "the advancement of architecture".

She 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.

"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."

In the UK, Hadid's most recognisable works are Cardiff Bay Opera House and the London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympic Games. Globally, her notable designs include Guangzhou Opera House in China and the Vitra Fire Station in Germany.

RIBA president Jane Duncan said: "Zaha 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. 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."

Awarded since 1848, previous Royal Gold Medallists include Frank Gehry, Norman Foster and Frank Lloyd Wright.

The medal joins an impressive list of accolades for Baghdad-born Hadid since she opened her own practice, Zaha Hadid Architects, in London in 1979.

In 2004, she became the first female recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, considered the Nobel Prize of architecture.

She has also twice won the Stirling Prize, the UK's most prestigious architecture award, for Rome's MAXXI art museum and for the Evelyn Grace Academy, a secondary school in Brixton. 

In 2012, Hadid was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire for achievements in architecture.