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Zaha would have ‘totally opposed’ Schumacher’s social housing stance, say executors of will

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The late Zaha Hadid would have ’disassociated’ herself from controversial comments made by her long-term collaborator Patrik Schumacher, according to the trustees of her will

Schumacher, who became the head of Zaha Hadid Architects following Hadid’s death in March, recently told the World Architecture Festival in Berlin that social housing should be scrapped, Hyde Park built on and all public space privatised.

During the same speech he called social housing tenants ‘freeriders’ and ‘privileged’, and said it was unfair that they were keeping more productive workers, including those at Zaha Hadid Architects, from living in the centre of London.

It is not the first time Schumacher has provoked controversy with his views, having previously spoken out about how funding for art schools should be stopped.

But now the executors of Hadid’s will - her niece Rana Hadid, former Arts Council chairman Lord Palumbo and artist Brian Clarke - have distanced themselves from his comments and issued a joint statement in response to Schumacher’s position on ’art schools, privatisation and social housing’.

The trio, who are also trustees of the Zaha Hadid Foundation alongside Schumacher, said: ’The views recently expressed by Patrik Schumacher regarding the closure of art schools, the abandonment of social housing 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 totally disagree with these views.’

Schumacher, the fourth executor of Hadid’s will, was also criticised by London mayor Sadiq Khan. In a statement released to the AJ, Khan said: ’[Whether] 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.’

Zaha Hadid Architects also issued a statement on Schumacher’s comments, saying he was ’brainstorming his thoughts’ to find ‘solutions to critical issues’. ’Patrik’s personal discussions do not reflect the views of the practice’, the statement begins (see below).

Hadid had publicly stated how much she wanted to design more projects which could help solve the social problems that led to the riots in 2011 after her picking up her second Stirling Prize for Evelyn Grace Academy.

She told the AJ: ‘We [as a country] can do better. The quality of this project can and should be pushed through to the mainstream. It should not just be for signature buildings, we should do it at every level.’

’Kids are rioting and then put away and that doesn’t help them, so we need to inspire them to do something else.’

Meanwhile, according to Dezeen, Schumacher has posted a statement on his Facebook page saying he regretted ’having embarrassed [his] friends and colleagues’ by his comments, saying he had hoped to ’stir a discussion and got much more than what [he] had bargained for’.

He writes: ’The bruises from the avalanche of indignation triggered by reports about my recent WAF remarks on the housing crisis are still fresh (and I still feel rather muted). My friends know that the emerging Mr Nasty image is no more than a media caricature constructed to shock and entertain. ’

He adds: ’The topics I touched upon turn out to be too touchy to touch at all in any direct or straightforward way….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.’

Statement in full from Zaha Hadid Architects

Patrik’s personal discussions do not reflect the views of the practice.

Zaha Hadid Architects has delivered 56 transformational projects for all members of the community in 45 cities around the world. In the UK, these projects include the Maggie’s Centre in Fife that has helped 50,000 people affected by cancer since opening; the Evelyn Grace Academy which provides world-class educational and sports facilities for 1,200 children in Brixton; the Riverside Museum in Glasgow that welcomes more than 1 million visitors each year, celebrating the city’s rich history of engineering and inspiring future generations; and the London Aquatics Centre in Stratford where almost 4,000 children learn to swim and dive each week.  

Marrying concepts of integration and connectivity with advancements ecologically sound materials and sustainable construction methods, we do not look at the disparate parts, but work to understand them as a whole to raise standards and benefit all.

Acting in his roles outside the practice as an academic and theorist, it is our understanding that Patrik was brainstorming his thoughts to raise awareness and broaden dialogue towards finding solutions to critical issues.

Zaha Hadid Architects

  • 3 Comments

Readers' comments (3)

  • Mr Schumacher might venture a little further than Hyde Park to find major opportunities for development on a truly massive scale, like over Clapham Junction railway station and adjoining land, or maybe over Vauxhall Station. Both areas are central and each with abundant rail, bus and underground/overground travel facilities these more than make up for perhaps less than ideal road capacity.

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  • I wonder whether in Schumacher's Brave New World, who will be driving the buses, waiting in restaurants, and serving in the shops in London? Having been displaced to the North or the coast, travel costs will just be too expensive for them. On a deeper level, when he says that the (unproductive) poor don't deserve the privilege of living in central London, is he therefore saying that the rich are rich because they have done something to deserve such riches?

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  • He sounds completely economically illiterate. The 'unproductive' bus drivers and barbers and butchers should make way for the 'productive' architects at ZHA. While we're scrapping social housing, let's also get rid of pesky minimum wages and child labour laws! I say put the kids back in the factories, none of this new-agey education for the plebs. If you can't afford school or housing then you should live in a slum somewhere far away.

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