Patrik Schumacher studied architecture at London South Bank University and at the Technical University in Stuttgart. For his doctoral studies in philosophy he was drawn to the University of Klagenfurt. Today he is the sole partner of Zaha Hadid Architects in London and employs 400 architects working on over 950 projects in 55 countries.
Mr. Schumacher, would you choose to study at the University of Klagenfurt again?
Yes, absolutely, not least because of the excellent professors. .
Are there situations in which you find yourself thinking back to your time at the university?
I often think of Professor Linda Pelzmann, and I do so with admiration and gratitude.
You are a partner at Zaha Hadid in London. What did it take for you to move to London?
I came to London early on, as an exchange student.
What fascinates you about architecture?
Architecture is highly polymorphic. It can be understood and performed as an artistic oeuvre or as a scientific and theoretical discipline and, last but not least, as an international business enterprise. I have explored all of these possibilities.
What is currently your favourite project at Zaha Hadid?
My favourite project at the moment is the new airport we designed and built for the city of Beijing. Fantastic spaces have been created there, which make the experience of travelling simpler and more pleasant for those passing through.
What kind of architecture do you think a university needs?
We have demonstrated this in the case of the building we constructed for the Vienna University of Economics and Business: A dense package of exciting, open and visually closely linked communication spaces.
What would you describe as the best experience in your professional career so far?
There have been several highlights. The ceremonial opening of buildings is always special. In the case of the London Aquatics Centre for the Olympic Games in 2012, the response of a wider global public added a particularly memorable aspect.
What else would you like to achieve professionally?
Professionally, there is still room for development in terms of further growth of the company and with regard to having a more comprehensive influence on my discipline. I haven’t reached my final goal yet.
You have taught at various universities in the past and you currently have teaching commitments at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. What do you enjoy about working with students?
I have been working with students for the past 25 years. I see it as part of my personal development efforts. Without this link to higher education, my innovative force and that of my company would be severely dampened.
What advice would you give today’s students who may want to live abroad in the future?
I think the number of cosmopolitans is constantly on the rise. Knowledge, the ability to learn independently and professionalism are in high demand everywhere. The world is your playground.
for ad astra: Lisa Svetina
translation: Karen Meehan