Dezeen Magazine

Patrik Schumacher is right to oppose regulations, says architect-turned-developer Roger Zogolovitch

Building regulations are stifling architects according to developer Roger Zogolovitch, who has declared support for ideas proposed by Patrik Schumacher in his controversial World Architecture Festival speech.

Zogolovitch – who co-founded architecture firm CZWG, before setting up property business Solidspace – agreed with Schumacher's statement that scrapping many regulations could solve the UK's housing crisis.

"He is promoting some very serious thoughts about the way in which we need to disrupt the system," Zogolovitch told Dezeen.

"We have got all these limitations that have been imposed on us, which are counter productive," he said. "They have created a perversity, and in that perversity you end up with an outcome that is not what the regulators intended."

Regulations create dangerous compromises

The developer said that initiatives like BREEAM and the Code for Sustainable Homes, which regulate the sustainability of buildings, are "dangerous" and often result in poor-quality architecture.

He claimed the market can offer more efficient solutions – citing green-energy company Ecotricity as an example.

Schumacher made the comments during a keynote speech at the World Architecture Festival in Berlin, which was live-streamed by Dezeen and can be watched here in full

"We have ended up creating the worst kind of compromise," he said. "If we are going to have regulations, then they should actually encourage better-quality development rather than take away from it."

"But if regulations are giving you perverse outcomes, you have to say 'well that's wrong'," he continued.

"Because we are not getting the outcomes we want are we? We are not getting the quality of development we want and we are not getting the amount of housing we want."

Social housing needs reform

Schumacher – who ranked in the Dezeen Hot List – made the comments as part of a controversial keynote address at the World Architecture Festival in Berlin, which was attended by hundreds of architects and first reported on by Dezeen.

During the speech, the Zaha Hadid Architects director mapped out his vision for a deregulated, market-driven city, which would involve scrapping social housing and privatising all public space.

Zogolovitch said that scrapping social housing altogether might be a step too far, but he agreed that the way it is currently created is ineffective. He claimed it is often used as a negotiating tool to help bad developments win planning permission.

"I'm not saying society doesn't need social housing, but it managed perfectly well with a public housing programme," said the developer, referring to some of the building projects of past decades.

"Right now we've only got terrible market housing that is just delivering to an overseas investor market, [with permission granted] on the grounds that a development delivers social housing. It's a kind of madness," he said.

Zogolovitch also claimed that the rise of websites like Dezeen is creating a greater public demand for high-quality buildings, and that most developers understand the value of becoming architecture "patrons".

"I think there's an opportunity for patronage to reemerge and for the quality of the development to be something which benefits the city," he said.

"If you think about the projects you cover in Dezeen, across the world you're seeing more and more having a quality and architectural integrity to them driven by the clients."

Not all developers are wicked

He named Crispin Kelly of Baylight – which backed the innovative Walmer Yard townhouses completed recently by architect Peter Salter – as a an example of a forward-thinking property developer.

"To me, that project reinforces the fact that developers aren't all wicked; quite a lot of them are very interested and are committed to making the buildings that actually improve the kind of environment that they live in," said Zogolovitch.

"Of course they have got to be part of the bottom line, of course they have got to be sold at the end of the day, but I think the reality is that there is a premium being paid for the thoughtful, quality, artisan nature of making good developments. And I think we need more of that," he concluded.

Schumacher's speech has been reported on by several major newspapers, and London's Evening Standard made it a front-page story.

London mayor Sadiq Khan branded Schumacher's comments as "out of touch" and "just plain wrong", while Dezeen columnist Phineas Harper urged the architecture industry to stop paying attention to him.

It is not the first time Schumacher has made a controversial statement – but it is the first time he has done so since taking over as director of Zaha Hadid Architects, following the unexpected death of its founder back in March.

Zaha Hadid's friends and family have disowned Schumacher's statements, while the architect has put out a statement of his own, defending his intentions, and apologising to friends and colleagues for embarrassing them.

"I was hoping to stir a discussion and got much more than what I had bargained for," he said.

"The topics I touched upon turned out to be too touchy to touch at all in any direct or straightforward way, or so it seems."