Zaha Hadid Architects director Patrik Schumacher has mapped out a solution to London’s housing crisis that involves getting rid of regulations, privatising all public space and scrapping social housing.
Speaking at the World Architecture Festival in Berlin, the architect presented an eight-point plan for what he would do if ever elected mayor, in a bid to make the city’s housing provision more efficient.
He also advocated foreign investment into property and gentrification. He claimed these would all help London to address its “affordability crisis”.
“We do not have a real market in real-estate provision, that’s why we have a housing crisis,” he said. “Housing for everyone can only be provided by freely self-regulating and self-motivating market process.”
Schumacher criticised the press for demonising foreign investors who buy second homes in the city. He said that these figures should be welcomed, even if their properties are left empty for several months of the year.
“Foreign investment capital coming into town should and would be great news,” he said.
“I know a lot of people that have second homes in London and I’m so glad they do,” he continued. “Even if they’re here only for a few weeks and throw some key parties, these are amazing multiplying events.”
Schumacher made the comments during a keynote speech at the World Architecture Festival in Berlin, which can be watched here in full
He said the real “tragedy” was that social-housing tenants have rights to “precious” city-centre properties.
“The fact that someone has had the privilege of a subsidised central location for some time, in my view should not establish ownership,” he said.
“Is it not fair that it’s someone else’s turn to enjoy the central location? Especially if it’s those who really need it to be productive and to produce the support required for those that have been subsidised.”
The architect also launched an attack on government regulations, which he claimed are stifling creativity and progress. He called for all land-use prescriptions and housing standards to be abolished, to make it easier for developers.
“All top-down bureaucratic attempts to order the built environment via land-use plans are pragmatically and intellectually bankrupt,” he said, and claimed that housing standards are “robbing us of many choices”.
He championed businesses including Pocket, a developer that has negotiated smaller space standards in order to create what it calls “starter homes for city makers”, and co-living startup The Collective.
“This is the kind of entrepreneurial flourishing that I love,” he said.
Privatising all streets, squares, public spaces and parks – or even whole city areas – is also a good idea, he said, and suggested that Hyde Park could even be replaced with a new city.
“How much are you actually using it?” he asked. “We need to know what it costs us!”
Schumacher made the comments during a keynote speech at the World Architecture Festival in Berlin. Dezeen is media partner for the event, which is taking place at Arena Berlin until 18 November.
Dezeen recorded the entire presentation, which is chaired by World Architecture Festival curator Jeremy Melvin. It is also available to watch on Dezeen’s Facebook page.