Architectural Association (Michael)



Sep '09 - Aug '10

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    The illusive Patrik Schumacher and his ephemeral ethos

    Michael Rogers
    Jan 23, '10 3:33 PM EST

    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. As one of the founders of the course this certainly was the case but, 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 and Zaha Hadid.

    In Term 1 there was exactly 1 confirmed Patrick Schumacher sighting when he attended several critiques of the final presentation. Where I have been able to see him, however, is in juries of the older phase 2 students. He attends the reviews of his students which comprise approximately 1/5 of the class and departs when they are done presenting. If you choose to take his studio for 1 year you will certainly have contact with him, must usually at his office but if not, it seems entirely possible that one might cruise though the DRL for a year and a half without much direct influence from this very prominent figure. This point came into sharp focus over the past two days of final DRL presentations as it became painfully clear that several teams were hearing his criticism for the very first time. In one particularly blistering three round assault Schumacher declared that the work presented was ‘reprehensible’ to which the presenters had only blank stares and a series of stammering rebuttals to respond with. I bring up this point because what often looks like an extremely close relationship with the office of Zaha Hadid is and isn’t there at the same time.

    It is there in the sense that many graduates do pass though her office and many of our teachers do or have worked there. It is also there in the fact that as part of Patrick’s studio experience will be a direct collaboration with the Zaha research group Code. Both of these instances represent extremely unique insights into the materialization process of the work and theory produced in the studio and its potential to become real. It is a curious place to think that one’s project could influence something that is being developed professionally and conversely that you are also extracting techniques and ideas from the office that are so new that the principals haven’t even seen them yet. And of course it is also incredibly easy to be completely consumed with other investigations and miss the Zaha/Schumacher show all together.

    In my experience the DRL is 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 may 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.

    For those of you who have visited and written this week, I hope this helps to give you some perspective on your questions.

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