Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Bagaimana kelanjutan studio ZHA Tanpa sang Diva Zaha Hadid ?

Talk: Patrik Schumacher on Fierce Debates, Facebook and the Future of Zaha Hadid Architects 
Patrik Schumacher interviewed by Paul Keskeys for Architizer, December 2016

Paul: I just want to start by asking you how the firm has evolved and developed over the past year. Obviously, after I just wondered whether you could give us an insight into how the studio has continued working from that moment and maybe if you have plans for the future as well.

Patrik: Sure, let me first of all emphasize the continuity of ZHA in terms of all the projects which are ongoing which is about 80. 24 of them are on site, under construction, and many more in late stages of design development, about to tender and soon to go on site. All that's just continuing. Since Zaha’s passing all of our clients stayed with us and trust us to deliver what we had started. We have also been able to secure some new work and we've done a number of new competitions, some positive, some negative. Overall there's an enormous amount of continuity in terms of the spirit and the DNA of the firm, the way we are working, our methodology and values, and of course in terms of my continued authorship and leadership. The continuity I emphasize involves the leadership of the board of directors and indeed the whole organization. We've always been a very collaborative setup with many creatives contributing and that continues in the same spirit and with an enhanced motivation because we want to make sure that we're surviving and continuing Zaha’s legacy.
That we can win new work is very crucial. It's very hard to have a firm just petering out, just completing jobs without refreshing the order book. That's actually economically unviable. So far it seems we are viable. We are indeed in a very good position financially and it terms of our order book and future income. We have actually increased our financial standing and profitability in the last few months. Looking forward into the future, we remain ambitious. We are eager to stay innovative and relevant, to remain worthy of consideration for the most prestigious projects in the major urban centers, all around the world, in all program categories. 
The firm has a full range of types of work, even infrastructure work like airports and train stations, and of course residential projects, mixed use complexes, office buildings, headquarters and so on. We also want to stay relevant with respect to major cultural buildings. We've competed for the Berlin extension of Mies van der Rohe’s National Gallery in Berlin. We are competing now for the new Munich concert hall. That is also very important to us. We don't want to change character. We want to remain innovative, cutting edge, speaking with artistic credibility and cultural credibility and remain a leading voice in the field. That's my mission.

Paul: Wonderful. That's great. Yeah, so just wanted to touch on ... You've been in the spotlight quite a lot recently after your speech in Berlin. I just wondered how you reflect on the sort of both sides of the debate that was created after you gave your presentation there and the question I actually wrote was slightly broader. I wrote what should architects' role in politics be and what are the opportunities and risks involved in that do you think?

Patrik: Well, I think there is a big debate out there which we have been facing in the media for quite a while now, which is the so-called housing crisis, or affordability crisis that exists in London but also in various cities in the US. There's a hot topic out there with various claims, attempted explanations and proposed remedies, so I've entered this debate. I've been thinking about it for quite a while. The occasion, the World Architecture Festival, was thematically focused on housing and I was asked to show some of our residential work. So I started my presentation with our social housing project in Vienna and then went on to show various projects we've done for instance in Milan and Singapore in terms of completed large multi-unit residential schemes, but I was also showing new residential projects under construction in the US, in Miami and Manhattan. 
That’s the way I had started my talk and then I moved on to look at explanations about why we're talking about a housing crisis and I pointed to the underlying historical forces that imply that we witness an era of intense urban concentration, in particular during the last 20 to 30 years and that this process seems to be accelerating in more recent years. We have to agglomerate in urban centers which become innovation hubs for R&D, marketing, finance and the creative industries. This current period is based on the micro-electronic revolution and the new dynamism of continuous innovation that this engendered is very different from the period of the mid-20th century, which was basically a manufacturing society based on the mechanical mass production of a universal, stable consumption standard that was facilitated by spreading the division of labor out into the landscape via suburbanization, delivering similar lives beavering away in parallel, distanced to remain undisturbed. That was Fordism with modernist urbanism. Now we witness a totally different socio-economic dynamic which we might call Postfordist Network Society, where we need to stay in close contact all the time, networking 24/7, to continuously reprogram the computer controlled and increasingly robotic production systems. Everybody feels the need to move to the center where the re-progamming is thought through. Nobody with ambition, perhaps nobody at all, can afford to stay provincial, cut off, and thereby relatively unproductive. We want to densify, we must densify our cities. This is a challenge and raises various contentious issues. Prices are rising fast. There seems to be a bottleneck in the supply of central residences. We need to locate the friction points, the resistances, the bottlenecks. I do not believe that the current pattern of supply restrictions with rising prices can be dealt with by trying to match rising prices with ever increasing subsidies being somehow rationed out to ever more people. This is neither efficient, nor fair. So I am asking how societal arrangements and rules might adapt to this new historical condition, to make the most of the challenges and opportunities afforded by the new network society. In recent years I have more and more come to believe that the increasing scope for market processes, i.e. neo-liberalism, is pointing in the right direction but has been compromised by far too much state intervention so that the inherent self-regulating capacity of markets has not been able to work properly, leading to many problems that I think should be attributed to interventionism rather than to capitalism as such.
Starting from this premise I've been going through a number of proposals about loosening the grip of politics and planners on urban development and finally touched on something - social housing - which maybe I shouldn't have touched because it's very, very touchy and sensitive and emotionally too charged. So I got this incredibly angry backlash, with so much hostility that I am reluctant to further discuss my reasoning here or elsewhere in an open, very public forum for the time being. I just want to mention here that what motivates my thinking is the same set of fundamental values that we all share, and that everybody who is stepping up into the public domain to participate in public reason should be presumed to share, namely a real concern about the common weal, prosperity, and the future prospect of society. My public interventions have indeed be animated by a deeply felt humanistic motivation and I am thinking about the human potential and human flourishing in our era, including everybody’s flourishing, inclusive, not exclusive. My title was “Housing For Everyone”. I just want to make this general point here, once more, without going again into the particular ideas that in my view are coherent with this generally shared ambition. That's where I'm coming from motivationally. But my particular policy ideas need much more careful and circumspect mediation, perhaps via a book, rather than via public debates.
The elaborate steps of mediation require a lot of economic theory, sociology and history which might eventually lead more of us to see the merit of my proposals. If you cut those mediations and their humanist foundation, you end up with something which seems untenable and willfully provocative because it's so different from the usual analyses and recipes. So I stand by what I've been saying but I won't say it again for now. This discourse requires a different, more theoretically minded context and I would have to rely on things not being lifted out of context. Those who know me know that I'm the furthest away from fascism as anybody can be, but I have been painted as a fascist and we had demonstrations outside of our office and I was literally chased down the road by demonstrators screaming “Stop the fascist”.

Paul: Oh, gosh.

Patrik: I took it in good humor and I was indeed enjoying it because I'm fit and long-legged and could pull away from that group who ran out of breath sooner as they were scream abuse at the same time as they were running. I guess I would be less enjoying the reminiscence if they had actually caught on to me to rough me up. I'm rather philosophical about all this. I also have got a lot of positive feedback and good vibes from people who like my ideas or who at least feel I should be able to speak without being vilified and defamed as fascist. This was comforting and helped me to sustain this unexpectedly stormy onslaught.
Of course my main worry in all this was: what does this do to my company ZHA? I was very much concerned about how clients would react to this and that this could taint not only my person but the ZHA brand. It seems that's not the case, judging by most recent engagements with London client, old and new. I think the media frenzy is one thing and what people really think is quite another thing. Anyway, the responses and interactions I had with various clients are thankfully not confirming my worst worries.
I take a philosophical stance, trying to understand and contextualize what happened. For me it's of course a lesson, and I guess the unexpected reaction has to do with my new position as ZHA principal. I've been saying most of the things I said at WAF before, at other occasions. I need to be mindful of my new public profile. I was hoping I could maintain a certain separation between my role as theorist and thinker on the one hand and my role as leading representative of ZHA. In principle this should be possible, in reality perhaps less so. With our professional work in the city with planners we certainly operate competently within a given political framework and we understand the reasoning behind this framework and can represent all stakeholder positions we encounter and meant to safeguard. My attempts to think beyond the given framework in the context of a larger debate should not imply my disqualification as a professional practitioner who delivers a service, an intelligent, competent service, within the very framework that I question theoretically. Current practice must go on while speculation of future practice is theorized. These domains need to be separated, and I think it is necessary that those who are operating within the current system are also involved in thinking about other possible systems. We should be smart enough to understand and appreciate the rationality of the current rules while investigating the potentially yet higher rationality of alternative rule sets.
At WAF I was taking as thinker, from a bird's eye perspective about systemic processes saying: "Hey, what if we think about the problem more radically, from a very different set of premises”. There was of course a provocative, speculative element in my talk, especially with respect to Hyde Park. I didn't expect that my propositions would be taken up so seriously, in so scary ways. I guess I have to learn to be more reflective about which context is going to absorb which level of uncensored frankness without too much upset and without jumping to false conclusions about my intentions and political position too quickly. Again: I am not a fascist! I am speculating from a libertarian perspective, i.e. from a most decisively anti-fascist perspective. Also: I am certainly not “right wing” either. The right-left political compass has become nearly meaningless and is certainly not capturing the pro-capitalist libertarian position. Anyway, to avoid a similar PR disaster I will certainly have to be more circumspect in the future.

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