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It is not possible to live in this age if you don't have a sense of many contradictory forces. - Rem Koolhaas Quotes
It is not possible to live in this age if you don't have a sense of many contradictory forces.
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Not many architects have the luxury to reject significant things. - Rem Koolhaas Quotes
Not many architects have the luxury to reject significant things.
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Escape from the architecture ghetto is one of the major drivers and has been from the very beginning.
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Evil can also be beautiful. The Coliseum in Rome, for example, a wonderful structure with an awful past. Just think about the bloody gladiator fights there.
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A building has at least two lives - the one imagined by its maker and the life it lives afterward - and they are never the same.
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Talk about beauty and you get boring answers, but talk about ugliness and things get interesting. - Rem Koolhaas Quotes
Talk about beauty and you get boring answers, but talk about ugliness and things get interesting.
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Any architectural project we do takes at least four or five years, so increasingly there is a discrepancy between the acceleration of culture and the continuing slowness of architecture.
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There are essentially two possibilities. One is to be, shall we say, an average architect and do the same thing everywhere. The other is to let yourself be inspired and even changed by the unique qualities of the place where you're building. We always try to take the second approach.
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Architects work in two ways. One is to respond precisely to a client's needs or demands. Another is to look at what the client asks and reinterpret it.
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Architecture is a hazardous mixture of omnipotence and impotence. It is by definition a c h a o t i c a d v e n t u r e... In other words, the utopian enterprise.
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The good is not a category that interests me. - Rem Koolhaas Quotes
The good is not a category that interests me.
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All important architecture of the last century was strongly influenced by political systems. Look at the Soviet system, with its constructivism and Stalinism, Weimer with its Modern style, Mussolini and, of course, the Nazis and Albert Speer's colossal structures. Today's architecture is subservient to the market and its terms. The market has supplanted ideology. Architecture has turned into a spectacle. It has to package itself and no longer has significance as anything but a landmark.
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Find optimism in the inevitable. - Rem Koolhaas Quotes
Find optimism in the inevitable.
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The stronger the identity, the more it imprisons, the more it resists expansion, interpretation, renewal, contradiction.
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Our society can no longer tolerate ugliness. You see that in cars, sofas and women. [But] ugliness also has a right to exist.
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Infrastructure is much more important than architecture. - Rem Koolhaas Quotes
Infrastructure is much more important than architecture.
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In a script, you have to link various episodes together, you have to generate suspense and you have to assemble things - through editing, for example. It's exactly the same in architecture. Architects also put together spatial episodes to make sequences.
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There's something really interesting about current urbanism: the only model is the universal model, and there is increasingly incapacity to consider the virtues and the qualities that are there, and then to build on them. The only thing is complete transformation.
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Asia is still dominated by skyscrapers. I hope that, in European cities, it will become a declining trend. They were almost never necessary.
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There is no plateau of resting or stabilising. Once you are interested in how things evolve, you have a kind of never-ending perspective, because it means you are interested in articulating the evolution, and therefore the potential change, the potential redefinition.
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But now sustainability is such a political category that it's getting more and more difficult to think about it in a serious way. Sustainability has become an ornament.
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I think one of the important evolutions is that we no longer feel compulsively the need to argue, or to justify things on a kind of rational level. We are much more willing to admit that certain things are completely instinctive and others are really intellectual.
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Architecture is a rare collective profession: it's always exercised by groups. There is an essential modesty, which is a complete contradiction to the notion of a star.
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Why I talked about political correctness: the colonial is now such a major taboo that any achievement of the colonial period, or any generosity implied in colonialism, is again fundamentally neglected or fundamentally not recognised. That's crazy, because history is a series of layers, and you cannot say, "This layer I support and this layer I cancel." History is history and you cannot retrospectively manipulate it.
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Architecture is a dangerous mix of power and importance. - Rem Koolhaas Quotes
Architecture is a dangerous mix of power and importance.
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The City is an addictive machine from which there is no escape - Rem Koolhaas Quotes
The City is an addictive machine from which there is no escape
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That has been my entire life story. Running against the current and running with the current. Sometimes running with the current is underestimated. The acceptance of certain realities doesn’t preclude idealism. It can lead to certain breakthroughs.
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Prada is extremely directed in terms of communicating what they like and what they don't like. That is actually extremely pleasant because it clarifies very easily what you can do and what you need to do.
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When air conditioning, escalators, and advertising appeared, shopping expanded its scale, but also limited its spontaneity. And it became much more predictable, almost scientific. What had once been the most surprising became the most manipulated.
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I'd say that my profession ends where architectural thinking ends - architectural thinking in terms of thinking about programs and organizational structure. These abstractions play a role in many other disciplines, and those disciplines are now defining their 'architectures' as well.
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Our office acts like a kind of educational establishment and we are very careful who we educate. - Rem Koolhaas Quotes
Our office acts like a kind of educational establishment and we are very careful who we educate.
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The Grid makes the history of architecture and all previous lessons of urbanism irrelevant. It forces Manhattan's builders to develop a new system of formal values, to invent strategies for the distinction of one block from another. The Grid's two-dimensional discipline also creates undreamt-of freedom for three-dimensional anarchy. The Grid defines a new balance between control and de-control in which the city can be at the same time ordered and fluid, a metropolis of rigid chaos.
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In this branch of utopian real estate, architecture is no longer the art of designing buildings so much as the brutal skyward extrusion of whatever site the developer has managed to assemble.
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People can inhabit anything. And they can be miserable in anything and ecstatic in anything. More and more I think that architecture has nothing to do with it. Of course, that's both liberating and alarming.
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Manhattan is an accumulation of possible disasters that never happen. - Rem Koolhaas Quotes
Manhattan is an accumulation of possible disasters that never happen.
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As an architect, I always have mixed feelings. On the one hand, your fingers are itching. As a human being, you are happy to participate in the indolence.
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Most old cities are now sclerotic machines that dispense known qualities in ever-greater quantities, instead of laboratories of the uncertain. Only the skyscraper offers business the wide-open spaces of a man-made Wild West, a frontier in the sky.
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The thing is that I have a really intense, almost compulsive need to record. But it doesn't end there, because what I record is somehow transformed into a creative thing. There is a continuity. Recording is the beginning of a conceptual production. I am somehow collapsing the two - recording and producing - into a single event.
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The people from the suburbs are bringing along their suburban values: cleanliness, orderliness, safety - dullness, in other words. As a result, urban areas are being hollowed out. Just look at Times Square in New York. No more sex shops, no drugs, no homeless people. The area is clinically clean and incredibly dull.
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One cannot completely avoid this landmark character with large buildings such as these. But the city itself is also gigantic.
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That has been another interesting discovery: that basically a city [Lagos] could recover from a really deep, deep, deep pit.
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The acceptance of certain realities doesn't preclude idealism. It can lead to certain breakthroughs.
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We say we want to create beauty, identity, quality, singularity. And yet, maybe in truth these cities that we have are desired. Maybe their very characterlessness provides the best context for living.
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Designs are increasingly winning competitions because they are literally green, and because somewhere they feature a small windmill.
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The work in S, M, L, XL was almost suicidal. It required so much effort that our office almost went bankrupt.
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We live in an almost perfect stillness and work with incredible urgency.
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When shopping was still connected to the street it was also an intensification and articulation of the street. Now it has become utterly independent - contained, controlled, surveyed.
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I studied in London in 1968. Our school had a separate department of tropical architecture. Of course it was totally unfashionable, partly because nobody wanted to think about colonialism, but basically what you learned there was that, OK, the sun is here, so you should create natural ventilation here - an unbelievable amount of really sound principles that have been completely abandoned, so now everything is air conditioned with big machines.
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Criticism per se does not worry me. I've always solicited it as part of the design process.
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The great problem of the concert hall is that the shoebox is the ideal shape for acoustics but that no architect worth their names wants to build a shoebox.
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Each building has to be beautiful, but cheap and fast, but it lasts forever. That is already an incredible battery of seemingly contradictory demands. So yes, I'm definitely perhaps contradictory person, but I operate in very contradictory times.
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The beauty of my profession [architecture] lies in its randomness and surprise. And don't think I can choose my projects. I have to build what's offered to me.
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Japan lives with drastic segregation between the sublime, the ugly, and the utterly without qualities. Dominance of the last 2 categories makes mere presence of the first stunning: when beauty 'happens', it is absolutely surprising.
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Manhattan has no choice but the skyward extrusion of the Grid itself; only the Skyscraper offers business the wide-open spaces of a man-made Wild West, a frontier in the sky.
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Let's put it this way: One can be happy or unhappy in a building. But some buildings make us more depressed than others.
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We discovered a person in Lagos who had a fish stall, and within a single square metre she carried two children all the way to Harvard. She supported an unbelievable escape of her children into education. In that sense it was a city completed pixillated, and every pixel contained amazing stories.
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The areas of consensus shift unbelievably fast; the bubbles of certainty are constantly exploding.
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If you have this reputation you can sit back and endure it, or you can try to do things with it.
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Manhattanism is the one urbanistic ideology that has fed, from its conception, on the splendors and miseries of the metropolitan condition—hyper-density—without once losing faith in it as the basis for a desirable modern culture. Manhattan's architecture is a paradigm for the exploitation of congestion.
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You need to look at inequality as a typical condition of modern society.
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The Metropolis strives to reach a mythical point where the world is completely fabricated by man, so that it absolutely coincides with his desires.
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Beauty isn't what I'm primarily interested in [in architecture]. I think appropriateness is more important.
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Without a tighter union, Europe will disintegrate
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Lagos was not very inviting even to Lagosians. It was considered a no-go zone, almost in its entirety.
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I am incredibly bad at predicting the future; I am only smart enough to observe the present and listen to my intuition about tendencies.
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The luxury of our position now is that we can almost assemble any team to address any issue.
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It was a book [George Packer written on our presence in Nigeria] that was killed by the response of other people. Which sounds quite cowardly, perhaps, but it was the first manifestation of what is currently a really big issue: how political correctness defines the limits of what you can do. In that sense, it was super-exciting and maybe the most magical project we did, but at the same time fraught with mixed feelings.
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Sustainability has become an ornament.
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In the end, there will be little else for us to do but shop.
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What is now called "green architecture" is an opportunistic caricature of a much deeper consideration of the issues related to sustainability that architecture has been engaged with for many years. It was one of the first professions that was deeply concerned with these issues and that had an intellectual response to them.
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The word 'celebrity' and the word 'architect' are basically incompatible.
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The real thing we tried to look at is what happens to a society when the state is absent. At that point, the state had really withdrawn from Lagos; the city was left to its own devices, both in terms of money and services. That, by definition, created an unbelievable proliferation of independent agency: each citizen needed to take, in any day, maybe 400 or 500 independent decisions on how to survive that extremely complex system.
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There's nothing Dutch about my architecture.
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At that time [90th in Lagos], if you drove through the city, you drove through a foreground that always seemed to be incredibly dramatic and incredibly agonised - smoking, burning, incredible compression. In the first year we stayed on the ground and went everywhere. But then in order to discover whether this was the whole story, we rented a helicopter. And we began to understand that this is not chaos but a highly modern system that had been abandoned, then at some point went into reversal, then slowly came out of it.
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Influence is a very unpleasant subject and I deal with it in a maybe irresponsible way, which is to really ignore it. It would be a nightmare if we started to really think about it; it would tie our hands, it would tie everyone elses hands.
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I wanted to disconnect from contemporary architecture
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Nigeria was a blank on the map - there weren't even any maps. The US State Department, everyone said don't go there. It was courageous of Harvard University: the notion was that we would match Harvard students with Nigerian students, so that every student would have a guide, creating a guarantee of intimacy with the city.
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The institutions are working better now, the banks are much more functional. At this time, 1997, there were no mobile phones! It's a whole different thing now with mobile phones: technology has created a form of regulation, because people can actually talk to each other a lot more.
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Manhattan has generated a shameless architecture that has been loved in direct proportion to its defiant lack of self-hatred, has been respected exactly to the degree that it went too far.
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The architecture per se isn't at fault. The more important factor, in my view, is the political neglect of these areas, which have essentially been cut off from other neighborhoods.
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