“When were you last in Hyde Park? How much are you actually using it? We need to know what it costs us!”
Patrik Schumacher might as well have suggested blowing up the moon when he proposed that Hyde Park in London should be privatized for development.
In a presentation at the World Architecture Festival 2016 in Berlin, Schumacher argued that London’s housing crisis is due to constraints imposed by government policies. In his “Urban Policy Manifesto,” he outlined eight “demands” for radical reductions of regulation and subsidies, and even private ownership of infrastructure and public spaces.
This polemic has predictably catapulted him into controversy, with some applauding his courage while others condemn his callousness, dubbing him “the Trump of architecture.”
But Schumacher is not some alt-right Twitter troll living in his parents basement. He is the Director of Zaha Hadid Architects, a 400-person international design firm that has produced some of the world’s most remarkable buildings of the last three decades, including the Heydar Aliyev Center in Azerbaijan and the London Aquatics Center for the 2012 Olympics. Schumacher was named Director after the untimely death in March 2016 of Dame Zaha Hadid, the groundbreaking Pritzker Prize winner whom Schumacher has worked alongside since 1988.
While he has clearly stated that his political views are his own and do not represent the firm (and the firm’s trustees have emphatically agreed), his position adds gravitas to what might otherwise be easily dismissed by the traditionally left-leaning architectural profession as irrelevant blasphemy.