Architecture News

In an Open Letter, Zaha Hadid Architects States That Director’s Controversial Views ‘Will Not Be Our Future’




Zaha Hadid Architects, the firm founded by the British architect Zaha Hadid, who died earlier this year, issued an open letter today about its director, Patrik Schumacher. Responding to Schumacher’s provocative claims that London should get rid of all social housing, the firm wrote that Schumacher’s views “[do] not reflect Zaha Hadid Architects’ past—and will not be our future.”

Schumacher has come under fire for an “urban policy manifesto” he delivered in the form of a keynote speech at the World Architecture Festival in Berlin on November 17. Over the course of an hour, Schumacher urged London to abolish all forms of rent control and housing standards, and to close art schools and build over Hyde Park. The goal, he said, was to privatize London, welcoming foreign investors in a city that is currently experiencing a housing crisis. A stunned audience immediately fought back against Schumacher’s controversial statements, calling him “the Trump of architecture,” according to a report in The Guardian.

This week, the executors of Zaha Hadid’s estate—Rana Hadid, Lord Palumbo, and Brian Clarke—responded to Schumacher’s manifesto, writing, “The views recently expressed by Patrik Schumacher regarding the closure of art schools and the building over of Hyde Park are his personal views and are not, in any way, shared by us. Knowing Dame Zaha as well as we did, we can state categorically that she would have been totally opposed to these views and would have disassociated herself from them. We personally also disagree with these views.”

Schumacher has been a director of Zaha Hadid Architects since 1988, and since the architect’s death earlier this year at age 65, he has taken on a greater role at the firm because he is now its sole living partner. He is known to write strongly worded Facebook posts about his political views.

In a post from November 22, Schumacher stated that the “urban policy manifesto” reflects his personal views. “[F]irms do not have opinions, only persons do,” he wrote. “I made my remarks at WAF not as representative of ZHA but as an individual who likes to query and discuss the political framework under which our discipline contributes to the development of the city.”

Zaha Hadid Architects’s letter, which was released in the form of an email this morning, follows in full below.

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

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