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Your views: Patrik Schumacher can’t have it both ways


Fulcrum magazine’s Jack Self questions Schumacher’s column in February’s AR

Patrik Schumacher has certainly never received so much public support as following last month’s AR article. Though what is perhaps most shocking is how long it has taken someone to publicly admit to what so many of us think − that academic projects are increasingly using ‘improbable narratives’ as entries into superficial and ‘ironic allegories’. The accusation of avoiding reality is both blatantly true and painful to accept.

Privately, we all die a little when confronted with yet another monochromatic ‘atmospheric’ render, incomplete without the obligatory flock of birds. But Schumacher can’t have it both ways, decrying experimental projects as ‘naïve (if not pompous)’ while also telling us that architects in general are ‘neither legitimised nor competent to argue for a different politics’.

This statement is indicative of the apolitical projects that Parametricism has thus far produced, and is also typical of the late-neoliberal ideologies that transformed the architect into an agent of a deeply flawed and ethically dubious economic model (which has now spectacularly imploded).

The result of excusing architects from public political discourse has been to create a whole generation of meek and apathetic students. In any case, if we accept that architecture is a social sub-genre (sui generis), even Plato tells us that all citizens have the right to speak as equals about politics and philosophy.

As the late, great Alvin Boyarksy once said: ‘Rise above your situation … look at the scene around you, the context in which architecture is made, and introduce a political note to your work.’

Jack Self, Fulcrum magazine, Architectural Association, London

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