super architect
February 28, 2014, 12:22 pm
Filed under: brave new world, the sweet life | Tags: , , , , , ,

We used, as architects, to do things for public benefit; now we broadcast the interests of individuals or corporations. This has changed the work, says Koolhaas in the interview below.

How it has changed the work? That’s a big question, but one can make guesses: from heterogenous to sterile, playful to slick? Today people want their new houses to look like hotel interiors. You could do open heart surgery in most contemporary house interiors they’re so white and polished.

And how to move on from the private and corporate place we’re in now? One way is to get rid of the starchitect. Did you ever wonder why J. K. Rowling writes all the books, Steve Jobs makes all the computers, Zaha Hadid designs all the buildings? It’s a bad system when so much work is generated by so few people. The conversation closes down and stagnates, as Koolhaas – himself a starchitect – notes.

Here is Koolhaas:

The profession has an investment in the idea that the architect has superhuman powers. It is totally counterproductive, because it cuts off any real communication between the architect and the public. When we put ourselves on a pedestal it makes any engagement with other aspects of the profession almost impossible. Since I am interested in communication and I write, I like to understand what the real issues are, and what the changing conditions are.
In the ’60s and ’70s the public sector was very strong, but in recent decades that has given way to various forms of market economy. This has enormously changed the conditions in which architecture can be produced. In the first instance, the architect was expected to do things for the public benefit. Now we are expected to broadcast the interests of individuals or corporations. So, although we still maintain the core values and ambitions of what architecture can do, this change has radically transformed the architect’s work.

Batik, Biennale and the Death of the Skyscraper, Interview with Rem Koolhaas, 19 February 2014 | By Andrew Mackenzie

amo: paradoxes
July 4, 2012, 2:17 pm
Filed under: departure lounge | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Row row row your boat, gently down the stream, merrily merrily merrily merrily, life is but a dream.

In the world of architecture and the built environment, wishful thinking is in the ascendent in direct proportion to the decline of relevancy and action.  We’re dreaming and the real world becomes more and more inaccessible.

This information graphic is by AMO, a part of their proposal for a new architecture and planning school in Moscow.  It describes a crisis in planning education which they cheekily propose to put at the heart of their new school and curriculum.

I’ve written some – maybe mostly redundant – notes in reaction:

ENERGY – We are hyper aware of sustainability … and doing virtually nothing about it.  Our new discourse and methods for sustainability are sneakily designed to propagate the same disastrous planning ideals that were used to make the giant unsustainable mess we now live in.

DESIGN – We lavish praise and awards on designs and designers; their work and names become household names … even as the designs fail in fundamental ways to meet the aspirations of basic briefs.

PUBLIC SPACE – Tech is a decades long, 24 hour, djayd hit parade – ‘what’s apple up to now?  how ’bout now?’ ‘and goo –?’ ‘and face –‘ – … and the real world we inhabit and share and touch and feel means less and less.

PRESERVATION – For this generation, nostalgia is everything, but nostalgia is an empty shell.  Memory, on the other hand, remembers the things nostalgia yearns for, but unlike nostalgia, rigorously inducts them into a real present.

THINNING – We are building ever further and and ever thinner … to the direct detriment of our ability to make ‘intense’ use of the places we inhabit.

Source:  AMO, Strelka