Candide No. 10 — 12/2016 — Essay II

Graham Owen
‘I Have No Power’ : Zaha Hadid and the Ethics of Globalized Practice

The article examines controversies that have arisen in the popular and professional media over the global practice of Zaha Hadid Architects, controversies involving questions of moral and political agency. These arguments bring to light otherwise under-articulated ethical values that compete and overlap within the discipline and profession, and the politics that frame those values. In analyzing in these terms the positions expressed by the architects, their apologists and their critics, I consider the relevance of Luhmann, Nietzsche and Arendt in illuminating the foundations and implications of those positions. I examine the efficacy of the codified expectations of the institutionalized profession as constraints on practice and suggest that, at the global scale, ethical judgment is more often being influenced by political ideology. This ideological framing is, I propose, the means by which Hadid and Patrik Schumacher reconcile claims on artistic autonomy and social transformation with the process of legitimation that architecture procures for their controversial clients. An Arendtian “space of appearance”, I suggest, needs to be found in which Hadid and her peers could demonstrate or be held to expectations of global citizenship.

Candide No. 10, 12/2016