The second of four episodes in our series about Patrik Schumacher, Director of Zaha Hadid Architects. Tim and Joe review and critique the media responses to Patrik’s controversial presentation about housing at the World Architecture Festival in November 2016.

Two of these articles, by the Guardian’s Oliver Wainwright and architectural writer Phineas Harper, are presented for extended criticism.

We had a little too much fun with this one.

Topics include:

  • Responses from London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Zaha Hadid Architects, protestors, and supporters (sort of)
  • Extended critique of Oliver Wainwright’s article in The Guardian:
    • Did Zaha Hadid “dismiss” Patrik’s theoretical work in parametricism?
    • Gurgaon – a mostly private city in India
    • Are “thought experiments” valid and meaningful?
    • The housing crisis can be explained in three words: Great Crested Newts
    • Noam Chomsky on anarcho-capitalism
    • A new off-Broadway play, “Syndicalism in One Act”
  • Extended critique of Phineas Harper’s article in Dezeen:
    • What social justice warriors and the alt-right have in common
    • Government solutions are the simple solutions. Market solutions require more complex thinking.
    • Child labor
    • Poverty and welfare
    • Neoliberalism, Thatcherism, and Hayek-ianism
    • Adam Smith was NOT the godfather of the free market. More like the weird uncle.
    • The intern architect who predicted the 2008 financial crisis


Media Maelstrom


  • How have Patrik’s libertarian ideas been perceived and communicated in the mainstream media?
  • Arch Daily chose not to cover the speech because of boos. Boo-hoo.
  • London Evening Standard – response from Mayor of London Sadiq Khan
    • Did Patrik say anything about diversity?
    • Is evicting tenants at the end of a lease term “social cleansing?”
    • City center affordability through new forms of co-housing
    • Replace social housing subsidies with cash handouts
    • Building more housing with minimum space standards does not create more affordable housing.
  • Zaha Hadid Architects press release
    • Irrelevant virtue signaling
    • Was this a smart response?
    • Press release was not approved by directors
  • Protestors  – The fascist (who wants to get rid of government)
  • Supportive articles – guarded responses

“Zaha Hadid’s successor: scrap art schools, privatise cities and bin social housing” by Oliver Wainwright in The Guardian, November 24, 2016

  • Comprehensive article, but not unbiased journalism
  • Parametric tuxedo
  • The Trump of architecture – says who?
  • Facebook rants
  • A conspiracy theorist
  • Patrik’s political views are separate from the practice
  • Patrik has only “unleashed” his views following Zaha Hadid’s death – a despicable argument
    • Patrik has published articles expressing these views since 2012.
  • Did Zaha Hadid “dismiss” Patrik’s theoretical work in parametricism?
    • W magazine article – history of busting his chops
    • “Parametricism” has been part of the branding and messaging of Zaha Hadid Architects.
    • The Guardian’s Architecture and Design Critic has used “parametric” to describe Zaha Hadid’s work.
  • The well has been poisoned, time to march out the libertarians
    • Tom Woods, Peter Schiff, David Stockman
    • Three claps for mentioning libertarians
  • Fundamental faith in the market – oversimplification
    • Anarcho-capitalism can not solve everything
    • The nirvana fallacy
  • Private solutions – Pocket living, The Collective, eliminating space standards, AirBnb, Liberland, free private cities
  • Gurgaon – a mostly private city in India
    • Gurgaon has not solved inequality in India. Fail.
    • Inequality is not the best metric to use. Look at economic progress for the poor instead.
    • Environmental damage
    • Sewage treatment was supposed to be provided by a local governmental agency and they failed to provide it.
  • Merely “thought experiments”
    • Valid hypotheses about possible future opportunities
    • Zaha Hadid was a “paper architect” for years before a building commission. Were these designs “merely” thought experiments?
  • Is Patrik uncertain of what he’s saying?
  • “Post-truth” – is Patrik appealing to emotion?
  • 600,000 plots of land with planning permission.
    • Land-banking
    • Is this a symptom of a property bubble?
    • The housing crisis can be explained in three words: Great Crested Newts
    • Permitted housing land is worth 300x the value of agricultural land.
    • “Getting planning permission isn’t the issue” – really?
    • Builders hoarding land to keep home prices high – really?
    • Housing supply is up 52% over three years.
    • “Implementable planning consent” and “conditions”
    • Shortages of labor and material
    • Pre-commencement conditions
    • Planning permission is not implementable planning consent
  • Examples of pre-commencement conditions holding up construction of “permitted” housing units:
    • Playground details
    • Services by other vendors
    • Documentation not under purview of planning department
    • Full details of solar panels, utility boxes, windows and doors, electric car charging ports
    • Locations of public art
    • Bat boxes
    • Great Crested Newts
  • Number of permits granted is not evidence of a simple permitting process
    • Permitting process can take 5 years
    • Small homebuilders in UK have decreased from 9000 to 3000
    • Large foreign builders don’t have necessary local connections to enter market
  • If Oliver Wainwright wants buildable land to get cheaper, he should want MORE land speculators to flood the market with land they’ve permitted
  • Noam Chomsky on anarcho-capitalism
    • Syndicalism in One Act
    • Employers advance wages to employees ahead of revenues
    • Two people contracting for employment is a “sick joke” – really?
    • Are negotiations between unequal parties invalid?
    • Chomsky agrees with anarcho-capitalists on a whole range of issues
    • Chomsky: “The burden of proof is always on those who argue that authority and domination are necessary.”

“It is time to stop listening to Patrik Schumacher” by Phineas Harper, published in Dezeen, November 28, 2016

  • Tolerance is bad – really?
    • Herbert Marcuse – “Repressive Tolerance”
    • What do social justice warriors and the alt-right have in common?
    • Shutting down discussion may be justifiable, but is not productive
  • “Total faith in the market to solve all conceivable problems” – Nirvana fallacy
  • Hayekian economics distorted to grotesque absurdity – ignores 150 year school of thought
    • Hayek – a dog-whistle to anti-capitalists
    • Margaret Thatcher – some good and some bad
  • If you want nuance, give him more time to talk
  • Patrik is not responsible for Joe’s ignorance
  • Katie Hopkins
  • If you’re not talking about government solutions, you’re not talking about solutions at all.
  • Child labor
    • The best time to start working is when you’re a teenager
  • A fantasy that complex problems have simple solutions.
    • Government solutions are the simple solutions. Market solutions require more complex thinking.
    • Poverty and welfare
    • Redistributive welfare payments have not solved poverty
    • Grit
    • A freer market would create more opportunities for everyone
    • Charity can be voluntary
    • Government gives people a false sense of charity
    • Markets make things cheaper (like Walmart)
  • Neoliberalism
    • Associated with Thatcherism
    • Associated with government interventions supporting businesses. This is not libertarianism.
  • “A fawning architectural press” – really? I mean, really?!
    • Press has attacked Zaha Hadid Architects in the past.
  • Phineas Harper on Ben Clark on Adam Smith
    • Appeal to authority – Ben Clark’s “Light Bulb” award
    • Appeal to authority inside an appeal to authority
    • Adam Smith was NOT the godfather of the free market
    • Murray Rothbard’s critique of Adam Smith
    • Perhaps Ben Clark is economically illiterate
  • Owen Hatherly on unconstrained developers
    • Appeal to authority
    • A self-professed communist. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
    • Retail parks, car parks, and shopping malls aren’t public spaces?
    • What’s wrong with a prepackaged, spoon-fed suburban lifestyle?
    • Many developments do incorporate green space and public amenities
    • “Given nearly unlimited space” not a realistic scenario
  • Markets can never make mistakes? Not true.
    • Markets have natural feedback mechanisms to correct mistakes
    • Widespread market failure is usually due to governmental interference in self-correcting markets
    • 2008 financial crisis resulted from governmental policies instigating, exacerbating, and prolonging market imbalances
    • The intern architect who predicted the 2008 financial crisis
  • Schumacher is ADAMANT! …yet uncertain?
  • We all share the same end goal of providing housing for everyone, but disagree on the means of achieving that end.
  • Outro: Winstnoam Churchomsky Goes to the Mall


  • Housing for Everyone – Dezeen’s video of Patrik’s controversial presentation at the November 2016 World Architecture Festival
  • – Patrik’s publications, interviews, and lectures, including his two-volume book on architectural theory, “The Autopoiesis of Architecture”

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