Architect Patrik Schumacher was the long time collaborator of Zaha Hadid, and how heads her eponymous firm after hear death in 2016. He’s a controversial character to say the least, wanting to essentially privatize all aspects of the city. But he also attacks the planning and zoning regulations that he argues are sending housing prices into the stratosphere.
I interviewed Schumacher for the Guardian, and the article is now online.
When Patrik Schumacher, who took over as head of Zaha Hadid Architects after its legendary founder’s death in early 2016, gave a speech at the World Architecture Festival in Berlin later that year, he nearly caused a riot. In the speech, which was about how to reduce sky-high urban housing prices, he proposed eliminating social housing, privatising all public spaces – including streets – and selling off most of London’s Hyde Park for development.
The London Evening Standard slammed him on its front page, mayor Sadiq Kahn criticised him as “just plain wrong”, protesters showed up at his offices, and some fellow architects called for denying him any future platforms to speak or write.
Schumacher was no fringe figure. He’d been a partner at Hadid’s practice and has helped design acclaimed structures ranging from the Maxxi museum in Rome to the Leeza Soho in Beijing, which will feature the world’s tallest atrium. He has a PhD in philosophy and has written a two-volume, 1,200-page book called the Autopoiesis of Architecture. When he took over at Zaha Hadid Architects he inherited one of the highest-profile jobs in global architecture, with real clout to see his ideas put into practice.
So was he actually serious in that speech?
“Quite serious, especially about the privatisation agenda,” he says.
“My staff here in the firm – young professionals – they know they have to be close. They can’t afford to live miles away,” he says. “They need to be in the pub afterwards debating issues. They need to slip over to the exhibition opening or that university lecture close by. They need to go to the networking breakfast before work or be available on the weekend maybe for seminars. People feel it in their bones. They have to be in the centre.”
Land prices are the biggest threat to this urban primacy. “People are moving out of LA, out of the Bay Area. They have to create other tech clusters because of land prices. Now that’s a tough choice for a young startup – to swallow these huge prices or to pull away. But pulling away means being less connected, being less productive potentially.
“These are decisions we shouldn’t have to pose to ourselves. It’s the same as here in London where people pull away and try to build a kind of tech cluster in Croydon. It’s sub-optimal. It’s not necessary. They should pile in to Shoreditch and to the tech cluster there rather than pulling away to Croydon. It makes no sense.”
Click through to read the whole thing.