Patrik Schumacher, Zaha Hadid Architects
(Above: Creating sophisticated products for high-value arenas - Patrik Schumacher, ZHA. Image: company website)
The unexpected death of Zaha Hadid in early 2016 has inevitably shifted focus to the future direction of the practice which bears her name.
Schumacher joined ZHA in 1988 and had been the sole partner alongside Hadid since 2002. In the last decade, he has established his own international profile, with a strong interest in teaching, publishing and appearing on industry platforms.
At the time of Hadid’s death, the practice was involved in 36 projects in 21 countries on its books. Its building at the Salerno Maritime Terminal in Italy recently opened and construction is under way for a new exhibition hall at the NürnbergMesse convention centre in Germany.
Other projects due for completion in 2016 include the Port House in Antwerp, the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies & Research Centre, Riyadh, and the Mathematics Gallery at the Science Museum in London.
Since Hadid's death, the company has also secured a number of new projects, such as a building for Russia's answer to Silicon Valley, a new central business district for Prague in the Czech Republic and a 38-storey hotel in Qatar.
Watch this video of Schumacher talking about the firm's recent work.
Working alongside the firm’s CEO Mouzhan Majidi, Schumacher intends to move into the practice’s figurehead role and continue its reputation for combining research, thinking and cutting edge design with a successful business base.
The 400-strong practice recently opened an office in New York and is looking to add studios in Mexico City and Dubai, the New York Times has reported. It is also keen to expand into aviation after winning a contract for Beijing Airport.
“We want to tell the world that we’re still a viable, vibrant address for major work of cultural importance,” Schumacher has said.
He told Dezeen: “In terms of the future of ZHA, how we are moving forward is maintaining research and innovative thrust, but in the context of what I call global best practice – very mature, sophisticated products for the most demanding, high-performance, high-value arenas."
As a thinker, Schumacher is the leading protagonist of parameticism, a design approach that uses algorithms to dictate the shapes of digital models that become architectural forms. These algorithms are created in response to parameters like the flow of people through a space.
He sees a social function for the approach, enabling the development of architectures that adapt to the diverse, complex and dynamic requirements of contemporary society.
In 1996, he founded the Design Research Laboratory (DRL) with Brett Steele at the Architectural Association School of Architecture. He still teaches in the programme and lectures at the AA. He has held professorships at the universities of Applied Arts in Vienna, Innsbruck and Harvard and is the author of several significant publications.