Patrik Schumacher, Principal, Zaha Hadid Architects

On the programme this week our guest is Patrik Schumacher, Principal of Zaha Hadid Architects.

When Patrik joined the practice in 1988, Zaha Hadid had just four other employees, based out of a couple of rooms in a converted Victorian school on Bowling Green Lane in Clerkenwell.

And the practice had no built work to its name, but Zaha was beginning to attract some public attention for her avant-garde designs, particularly following her inclusion in the Deconstructivist Architecture exhibition at MOMA in New York in 1988, along with now fellow household names Rem Koolhaus and Frank Ghery,

Patrick was born in West Germany and originally studied Mathematics and Philosophy at the University of Bonn, where he was influenced heavily by the work of Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.

It was later that he studied Architecture at the University of Stuttgart before continuing his studies at the Southbank Polytechnic (now London South Bank University) as part of an exchange programme.

After joining the practice Patrik quickly became one of Zaha’s most trusted confidants and friends, working on many of the practice’s major projects.   As the practice grew Patrik became increasingly influential as a senior partner and co-leader of the practice.

In London the practice’s work includes the Olympic Aquatics Centre in Stratford, The Evelyn Grace Academy in Brixton (for which the firm won one of their two Stirling Prizes) and the Serpentine Sackler Gallery – but the vast majority of the firms work continues to come from overseas.

Zaha Hadid died in March 2016 leaving Patrik as Principal of the 400-plus person practice that still bears her name.

I joined Patrik in the practice’s offices in Clerkenwell, where he started some 30 years ago. We talked about politics, working long hours, having a thick skin, and the future of the practice.

We also talk about the benefits of writing and the process of quantifying the practice’s ideas and lending written words to the often oral arguments that went on at the time. And we talk about Patrick coining the term parametricism.

And then we talk about how teaching can help a practice rejuvenate and reinterpret its ideas.