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Patrik Schumacher preaches the gospel of ‘parametricism’, a system of architecture designed to cut out human error by valuing technology over art and intuition. But does it work?
Patrik Schumacher is an architect who thinks the world needs more unfettered capitalism, not less. He loves Brexit and the escape it offers from “the paralysing embrace of the EU’s interventionist regulatory overreach”. He wants all public funding of art schools to be stopped because “contemporary art is not justifiable by argument”. He is unapologetic about working for dictatorships and has attacked a list of “moralising critics” of which I am proud to be one. In short he delights in taking the opposite position to the centre-left consensus of much of his profession. He is also the high priest of parametricism, a style or philosophy of architecture whose “rationality” and “obvious superiority” means, he believes, that it should and will supplant all alternatives.
Among its adherents, parametricism inspires devotion; others view it with mistrust, not to say fear and loathing. But unlike many architects he is game for a good argument, for which reason I was pleased to spend the best part of two hours hearing his views and occasionally offering my own.
Born in Bonn in 1961, Schumacher worked with Zaha Hadid in her London office from 1988 until her death earlier this year, and rose to become her right-hand man. The projects that appeared under her name, especially in the later years, were strongly influenced by his ideas and are the main evidence of what parametric architecture might look like.
Now Schumacher is in charge of the 400-strong practice, with the daunting task of continuing without the impetus that came with her fame and charisma. They have on their books projects such as the Beijing airport new terminal building, due for completion in 2022, a colossal splayed, curvaceous sea creature of a structure that will eventually handle 72 million passengers a year. […]