War of Words

Zaha Hadid Architects and Patrik Schumacher openly feud over public housing and privatizing public space

Architecture Development International Newsletter Urbanism
Zaha Hadid Architects and Patrik Schumacher publicly fued over public housing and privatizing public space. Seen here: Schumacher in  2012. (Courtesy Olga Eichenbaum, Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design / Flickr)
Zaha Hadid Architects and Patrik Schumacher publicly fued over public housing and privatizing public space. Seen here: Schumacher in 2012. (Courtesy Olga Eichenbaum, Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design / Flickr)

One of the world’s top architecture firms has entered a public row with one of its partners.

On November 17, Patrik Schumacher, a partner at Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) and renowned proponent of parametricism, took the stage at the World Architecture Forum in Berlin to deliver a speech that shocked some: Attacking government regulation and bureaucracy, he described an eight-point plan that called for the privatization of public space, the elimination of government-issued land use policies, and the abolishment of all social, affordable, and public housing, among other similar goals. In the speech, he decried how such laws, regulations, and practices stifle architectural creativity and development while giving tenants of public housing unfair access to city centers. “All top-down bureaucratic attempts to order the built environment via land use plans are pragmatically and intellectually bankrupt,” he said, according to Dezeen.

Schumacher has made similar statements in the past, though with less forcefulness. Last August, he told The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) that “We at ZHA see society’s development differently and I’m willing to talk about my optimism for more market-based organization processes and entrepreneurial solutions to societal problems. Solutions to maybe what we can perceive to be certain economic statements and stagnation in recent years.”

Earlier this morning, ZHA published this letter, which AN has reproduced below:

Open letter from Zaha Hadid Architects
November 29, 2016

Patrik Schumacher’s ‘urban policy manifesto’ does not reflect Zaha Hadid Architects’ past—and will not be our future.

Zaha Hadid did not write manifestos. She built them.

Zaha Hadid Architects has delivered 56 projects for all members of the community in 45 cities around the world.

Refusing to be confined by limitations or boundaries, Zaha did not reserve her ideology for the lecture hall. She lived it.

She deeply believed in the strongest international collaboration and we are very proud to have a hugely talented team of 50 different nationalities in our London office, including those from almost every EU country. 43% of architects at ZHA are of an ethnic minority and 40% of our architects are women.

Zaha Hadid didn’t just break glass ceilings and pull down barriers; she shattered them—inviting everyone of any race, gender, creed or orientation to join her on the journey.

Embedding a collective research culture into every aspect of our work, Zaha has built a team of many diverse talents and disciplines—and we will continue to innovate towards an architecture of inclusivity.

Architects around the world are calling for the profession to become more inclusive. The national and international press have also done a very good job highlighting the critical issues of housing and the threats to vital public spaces.

Through determination and sheer hard work, Zaha showed us all that architecture can be diverse and democratic. She inspired a whole new generation around the world to engage with their environment, to never stop questioning and never—ever—stop imagining.

Collaborating with clients, communities and specialists around the world who share this vision, everyone at Zaha Hadid Architects is dedicated to honouring Zaha’s legacy, working with passion and commitment to design and deliver the most transformational projects for all.

Zaha Hadid Architects  (Copyright © Zaha Hadid Architects)

It remains unclear exactly who authored the piece, or who among the firm’s members, trustees, partners, etc. pushed for its publication. AN  will continue to cover this story as it evolves.

UPDATE: Oliver Wainwright of the The Guardian has tweeted this:

UPDATE: “Come out Patrik, come out from under that table!” cry protesters at Zaha Hadid Architects’ London office

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