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Hadid mulls practice title change


Zaha Hadid has said business partner Patrick Shumacher ‘needs to commit himself’ before world-renowned practice is renamed Hadid Shumacher Architects

Speaking with Razia Iqbal at the RIBA in an interview for the BBC World Service’s Dream Builders series, the Priztker Laureate gave the surprise response following a question from the Architects’ Journal.

Asked whether Hadid Shumacher Architects would better reflect the creative forces driving the practice forward in light of Shumacher’s tireless promotion of Parametricism, which the firm has become known for, Hadid said: ‘The strength of the office is we all work as a team. Everyone brings something to the table. There are lots of other leaders I encourage them always. But [the practice] has my name because I started it.’

Hadid conceded however that Schumacher was ‘the king of parametricism’.
Iqbal then asked Shumacher, seated on the front row, to define parametricism, which he proceeded to do, tailing off into complex theorising.
To laughter from the audience Hadid explained: ‘On the way here we decided that we should both say something. I said to him, ‘I’ll get you to talk – but don’t talk too long’.

Comments on Twitter picked up on Hadid’s response to a possible practice rebrand: ‘Zaha lecture last night @RIBA Journalist from @ArchitectsJrnal ask if practice should now be called ‘Zaha Schumacher’? Awkward silence’ wrote architect Ming Cheng.

‘It was a great question that needed asking. Zaha and Patrik handled it very well’‏ @Zabbadou tweeted.

During the two hour interview a relaxed Hadid charmed the audience with her honesty and willingness to answer tough questions. Pressed by Iqbal over her decision to work for authoritarian governments, Hadid said:
“I am by nature sceptical. I am much more cautious than I look. You cannot predict the economy, the politics [but]as an Arab I feel that whatever contribution I can make to that part of the world is very important .

‘If someone gives me a commission to do the parliament in Libya — I don’t care who’s in power. If I can contribute to democracy I will.

The winner of this year’s Jane Drew Prize added: ‘If someone asks me to do a parliament…It’s not for the leadership, it’s for the people, and any project in that part of the world would be an improvement.
‘I’m casting a shadow over the whole world. How much censorship am I supposed to impose?

She added: ‘What about legitimate countries that bomb people? Maybe if Gaddafi had asked me to do his house I wouldn’t have done it.
‘But would I have done a house for George Bush when he was in power? It’s very difficult.’

Dream Builders
will be broadcast on BBC World Service in Spring 2013.

Zaha on Zaha

On how Zaha Hadid Architects designs:
You must observe and create simultaneously.
Our repetoire has been developed over many years. They are not literal translations.
It’s very much based on abstraction.

Carving, cutting or peeling, matched with abstraction.

On the tyranny of the right angle:
I have nothing against the right angle. But the diagonal is a very liberating dynamic experience.
Some in the office made some T-shirts that said: There are 360 degrees. Why should I use just one?

On her influences:
It was a great learning experience for me to work with Peter Rice
He was incredibly generous and very modest.
He would come to our office at midnight to help resolve our projects.

On one project were were working on in Japan he said: ‘you can skew it. But skew it this way’
Rem was very important. Alvin Boyarsky was an incredible educator.

On Psychology:
I did play with this idea that I should become a psychiatrist. I was nuts even at a young age.
I can suss people out…I’m very good at it. I have a very acute observation. It took Patrick Schumacher twenty years to realise I am right.

On Catholic nuns:
Catholic nuns are insane – in the best possible way. They really believe in education for women.
I crossed my heart for five years before I realised I wasn’t a Christian.

On being a woman architect:
I would be more successful if I didn’t have 200 men in my office (laughs)
Being a woman architect gave me many more advantages, as well as disadvatages. I couldn’t play golf with them. But maybe I don’t want to be part of that world.
[Because I am a woman everyone is] so preoccupied with my appearance.
I’m not a diva. They don’t know what a woman with ambition is….So whatever I do will be perceived as wrong.
People are so used to being overnice…and if you don’t do that – you’re not nice.
You have to fit into a certain mould.
[I still feel stygmatised]There is something in the air. There’s definitely something there.

On her parents:
Everything my parents wanted me to do -  I failed miserably.
They both encouraged me.
I’m sure they would be very thrilled [by my success as an architect]

In Iraq, the rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates had a tremendous influence on me.
If I had studied in America I may have been a more successful businesswoman. A more corporate architect.
[As a student] I was seen as wild – but also very focused.
I was in Berlin when Chrsito wrapped the Reichstag. It was a very weird event.


Readers' comments (2)

  • Zaha Hadid is in her sixties - she needs to think about succession planning - does she want her practice and work to continue after her retirement (or death)? She might consider a younger partner (not sure how old Patrik Shumacher is) but the choice of partner is a difficult one - not only strategically but also pychologically. It will be hard to find other candidates within the practice who can match her charisma and talent; bringing in new partners from outside rarely works.

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  • An excellent question from the interviewer regarding the firm's title. Patrik Schumacher played a great role in the success of ZHA and should be recognized for it. It would be unfair to say otherwise.
    Schumacher is really the best choice for a partner for Zaha Hadid has.

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