‘An Obsessive Compulsion towards the Spectacular’
Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas talks about new trends in architecture and urban development, the end of the European city, the rise of Dubai, Russia and China, the obsession with XXXL and the difference between the people who design buildings for a living and “star architects.”
uddrag . . .
SPIEGEL: You apparently don’t like the concept of sustainability.
Koolhaas: Because it’s become an empty formula, and because, for that reason, it’s getting harder and harder to think about ecology without becoming ironic. On the other hand, there is of course a benefit to the label of sustainability being so popular today. We have long been trying to build in such a way that we can manage without air-conditioning as much as possible, by avoiding unnecessary exposure to direct sunlight and by creating a mass that provides shade. There was hardly any interest in this in the past, whereas today customers pay.
SPIEGEL: At a recent talk in Dubai, you showed two slides. The first image was of a series of iconic skyscrapers that you, Zaha Hadid and other star architects designed. The second was of a collection of high-rise buildings designed by unknown architects. The images were surprisingly similar.
Koolhaas: I have a very hard time with the expression “star architect.” It gives the impression of referring to people with no heart, egomaniacs who are constantly doing their thing, completely divorced from any context. I believe that this is a grotesque insult to members of a profession who — to the extent that I know my colleagues — go to great lengths to find the right thing, the appropriate thing, for each individual case. At the same time we are, of course, driven by the market — and by developers who try to pin us down to certain forms. I have spent a lot of time thinking about the best way for us to escape this being pinned down to the purely formal. That’s why I decided to simply demonstrate it: There is, in fact, no great difference between the buildings by “star architects” and those designed by others.