After Patrik Schumacher voiced his desire for public and affordable housing to be abolished, protesters have today targeted the office of Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) in Clerkenwell, London.
In Schumacher’s speech, made earlier this month in Berlin, he argued that state regulations stifle architectural creativity and development while giving tenants of public housing unfair access to city centers. Schumacher also called for 80 percent of Hyde Park to be built upon and for the privatization of all public space, all of which was part of his “urban policy manifesto.”
This has not gone down well with activists from Class War and the London Anarchist Federation who protested at around midday (U.K. time) and into the late afternoon outside ZHA’s Clerkenwell studio. According to The Architects’ Journal (AJ), numbers swelled to around 20 and demonstrators accused Schumacher of “driving the working class out of London.” The AJ also reported that shouts of: “Come out Patrik, come out from under that table” were heard. Schumacher, however, is believed to currently be out the country.
Speaking to The Architect’s Newspaper (AN), Jamie Wilson, an architecture student who works nearby ZHA’s office recounted the affair: “Under police surveillance, a few representatives [from the London Anarchist Federation] were speaking on a megaphone. They commented on the ideas raised in P.S.’s World Architecture Festival keynote and their potential outcomes for citizens of London. Following this they addressed the office directly, pointing out that his views should not be taken lightly by his colleagues (who have since issued an open letter distancing themselves from the matter). Issues of their publication “RESISTANCE” were being handed out to passers by.”
“What Patrik Schumacher has said is social fascism. If it’s not opposed early on, it will grow and grow […] we as working class people want to stop it right at the beginning,” told founder of Class War, Ian Bone (no relation to Ken Bone) to the AJ. “We hope Schumacher will retract his vile views, apologize and get out of the country.”
The anger from the protesters is directed at Patrik Schumacher and already ZHA in an open letter rebuked his words, saying: “Patrik Schumacher’s ‘urban policy manifesto’ does not reflect Zaha Hadid Architects’ past—and will not be our future.”
Olly Wainwright also tweeted a screenshot of an email detailing Rana Hadid, Lord Palumbo, and Brian Clarke’s essential disavowal of Schumacher’s remarks. (The three are trustees of the Zaha Hadid Foundation and executors of Hadid’s estate).
Executors of Zaha Hadid’s estate come out all guns blazing against Patrik Schumacher’s comments. How much longer will he be in his job? pic.twitter.com/FVHA9yqOfr
— Olly Wainwright (@ollywainwright) November 29, 2016
Schumacher himself has also responded to the furore. “I was hoping to stir a discussion and got much more than what I had bargained for,” he said on his Facebook page in an apologetic statement according to Dezeen. “The topics I touched upon turned out to be too touchy to touch at all in any direct or straightforward way, or so it seems.” He continued, going on to say: “Like all of us, I dream of a caring, inclusive, diverse society where everybody can flourish and realise his/her potential and nobody is left behind. All I say is inspired by this longing.”
Despite ZHA’s open letter, according to CLAD Global, a ZHA spokesperson reaffirmed Schumacher’s position in the company. They said: “Patrik’s position is certainly not under any threat; he remains our principal. Patrik is currently in Asia, along with other senior members of the practice, for a topping out ceremony.”
Current London Mayor Sadiq Khan however, has not been impressed by Schumacher’s comments. “One of our biggest strengths as a city is our diversity, with Londoners from different backgrounds living side by side,” he said speaking in London newspaper, the Evening Standard. “So whether these out-of-touch comments were designed to shock or not, anyone who thinks abolishing affordable housing altogether, supporting ‘buy-to-leave’ empty properties, and building on Hyde Park is the answer to London’s housing crisis doesn’t understand the first thing about our great city.”