under Uncategorized

Eric Owen Moss: Parametricism and Pied Piperism: Responding to Patrik Schumacher


Moss, Eric O. “Parametricism and Pied Piperism: Responding to Patrik Schumacher.” Log 21.1 (2011): 81-87. Print.




Eric Owen Moss                       Patrik Schumacher

Architect – Los Angeles            Partner – Zaha Hadid Architects

Director – SCI-Arc                     Co-Director – AADRL

Gnostic Architecture                The Autopoiesis of Architecture






Schumacher says:


“After a period of questioning, brainstorming, and freewheeling experimentation, new provisional conclusions must be drawn, decisions must be made on how to move a project forward in a clear way.”


“I measure everything with respect to productivity in the sense of the productivity/vitality of a civilization, a civilization that increasingly sets itself free from the blind material forces it faces in its environment. That’s progress.”


//Schumacher believes unnecessary conflicting perspectives in the field of Architecture hinder progress, thus architects must organize under one unified theory of architecture in order to actually accomplish anything. He uses the example of critics contradicting themselves in a sequence of reviews to prove the futility of architecture without a unified theory.





Moss says:


“I made a book a few years ago, called Gnostic Architecture, anticipating this recent effort on your part. It’s conceptually antithetical to your stated mission. It insists on improvisation, ambivalence, and the uselessness of charts.”


“Gnostic architecture is not about faith in a movement, a methodology, a process, a technique, or technology. It is a strategy for keeping architecture in a perpetual state of motion.”


//Moss wants the field of architecture to remain constantly in the chaotic questioning and freewheeling experimentation stage. Architects as individuals must overcome contradicting ideas and develop their own internal design methodology, despite Schumacher’s fear that this will eat up the individual’s entire career.



//Moss crafts an argument attacking Schumacher’s rigidity. Primarily Moss attacks the pseudo-scientific definition of progress and productivity by pointing out a certain amount of ignorance and neglect in Schumacher’s methods. Firstly with labeling:


“You’re in love with labeling – and one of the fascinating things about the act of naming is that it may facilitate a logic of nomenclature while confusing the search for the meaning the logic claims to deliver.”


“Be careful that you don’t eliminate instincts in architecture that don’t fit the a priori parametric formulations….”


“Arguing for ‘differentiation’ as a regulation, rather than an instinct for exceptions, is as if differentiation ratified a democratic position for variation…Regulating the form of choice means choice is gone.”



//Secondly Moss calls out Schumacher’s repetition of the style / crisis / new style paradigm. This is where the Pied Piper metaphor comes into play. The followers of Parametricism’s pipe will die in crisis, just as modernism’s did, and the inevitable “dismantling” of a parametricism will be that much harder due to it’s followers adherence.


“I prefer a skepticism of all ordering mechanisms, rather than an allegiance to any one. The stretch between the two possibilities may be where a truth lies: the tension between options rather than the selection of one and the elimination of the others.”


“I think, in a sense, you’ve homogenized the anomalous, described a policy position, and in doing so, you’ve depersonalized the content. This is an imprecise example, but 100 Sagrada Familias mean something different than one – and an unfinished one, at that.”


“Speed isn’t necessarily conducive to thoughtfulness. What you list as assets are simultaneously assets and liabilities. The tools made the world different. Now it’s our job to say what’s better and what’s worse, in order, perhaps, to make what’s worse better.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *