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Rem Koolhaas, curator of this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale, tells Jonathan Glancey why the uniformity of modern cities drives him up the wall
Take that, Patrik Schumaker.
Koolhaus is good at stating the obvious and claiming ownership to pretty basic common ideas. I agree with him but in a kinda (well duh) way. He's kind of an intellectual Columbus.
I know that's enough to get stoned for blasphemy.
It's funny to hear Koolhaas lament the homogenization of the world's architecture, yet when one want's to inbue their work with something local and unique, it must be done on terms only someone like Koolhass approves of. “It’s not a Jeremiad,” says Koolhaas, a touch defensively, of his exhibition, pacing like a hungry panther between phone calls and meetings in his Rotterdam studio. “Elements isn’t a rant. It’s not negative – as an architect, you can’t afford to be that...
It's an emotionally cool criticism, the only kind Northern Europeans allow. After all, if it's emotionality that give places a true feel, then one certainly wouldn't want to soil the solution with something so easily criticised as emotion!
"The more Koolhaas talks – and he is never less than engaging – the more his criticism of a world filling up with the architectural brainchildren of “Reagan and Thatcher, globalisation and digitalisation” reveals itself."
Of course, the erasure of the local has nothing to do with modernism and the self imposed puritanical international style, and everything to do with a couple of greedy politicians. Koolhaas makes the obvious observation sound deep through mashing up history into neet sound bites when an average historian could set him straight. Yet, when it comes to a solution, what does he offer up?
“but artists and architects have to become much more critical in terms of making certain assumptions about how we design and build.”
Of course we must be more critical. The more critical the better. Just don't be emotional.
Rem Koolhaas' 90s work, from Bordeaux to IIT, seems to offer a counterpoint to his own claims that modernity is not local and must be uniform. His XL work of this past decade seems to have become a bit more cynical and uniform, with small quirks. His opinions are obvious, and have been said by many before. I don't know why they have to be so needlessly over simplistic.
Modernity has not replaced older architecture, it lives next to it and grows from it. Much of its mantras have been abandoned, in favor of a more complex building types that Rem seems unaware of.
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