The illusive Patrik Schumacher and his gravity.
I remember reading a blog a year or two ago where the author described the DRL as a place that revolved heavily on the ideas and personality of Patrik Schumacher. For those of you who are Zaha enthusiasts and those who are not, I have to confess that the first term of the DRL has been almost completely devoid of both Mr. Schumacher presence and the agenda that he brings to the discussion. I am sure it surprises no one to hear that a very prominent and busy critic like Mr. Schumacher has very little time to spread between many projects but I have received several questions concerning the relationship between the DRL program and Zaha’s office and so this is how I have seen it materialize:
In Term 1 there was exactly 1 confirmed Patrik Schumacher sighting when he attended several critiques of the phase 1 final presentation, although he barely stayed long enough to critique two teams. Where I have been able to see him is on juries of the older phase 2 students. He typically attends the reviews of his students only, which comprise approximately 1/5 of the class and departs when they are done presenting. That means that if you choose to take his studio for 1 year you will certainly have contact with him but if not, it seems entirely possible that one might cruise though the DRL for a year and a half without much direct influence of this very prominent figure in studio or lectures. That being said, this is a very open atmosphere where one is free to pursue their own agenda whether it aligns strongly with that of a particular tutor or not.
In terms of Zaha Hadid herself, she is not a name that I have heard often as either precedent or inspiration from fellow students and we have studied none of her buildings in our seminars. In the last few years the DRL underwent a major modification where instead of the entire class working on essentially the same brief with different tutors, each tutor now presents their own unique brief under which their students begin to specialize/segregate. In my opinion it is now an extremely diverse environment where one studio may be deeply enthralled with Maya’s Hair Dynamics while another is completely consumed with self aware robotics and a third could be pursuing structural analysis as its line of research. A strong desire to develop emergent behavior and an interest in utilizing parametric tool sets anchors all of the different briefs and in this way one could say that the program is in alignment with Zaha’s office but, I also think that these desires also underpin many other offices and schools around the world. In short, the old axiom that 90% of what one learns in school , one learn from their fellow classmates has described my experience here precisely. In many instances, I find myself wishing that the tutors would ‘teach’ in a more direct and heavy handed way because I came in part to learn how to design like them and to understand places like Zaha Hadid, FOA and OMA in a serious way. But like it or not, I have found studio often like a wigi board, where the direction the medallion is moving is very clear but the movement comes from many sticky little fingers all pulling and pushing in very different directions with the team caught desperately in the middle.
I am going to cut this off now that I am into dubious metaphors. For those of you who have visited and written, I hope this helps to answers your questions.