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On Koolhaas's Defense of Generic Architecture

When I read Rem Koolhaas I can't help thinking of Groucho Marx's words when he says: "Those are my principles. If you don't like them I have others."

I question whether a city with a 40% or more of foreign workers, particularly those in many African cities where Koolhass asserts his architectural power-- people who have no right to vote, many of whom don't have their family with them and where creating a community is pointless--can ever be really free. Richard Sennett discussing 'flexibility' (a work approach in capitalist societies) claims that, "Once people used to come to the city in search of anonymity, diversity and the freedom to meet others. Cities were also places of collective struggle and solidarity. Now, just as the workplace is affected by a new system of flexible working, so the city, too, risks losing its charm as businesses and architecture become standardised and impersonal." (Richard Sennett's "A flexible city of strangers").

Koolhaas believes the generic city is also the freest. Liberated from the codes and rules of the old city center, it’s a free zone, a safe haven for the migrant workers who make up (in Amsterdam’s case) 40 percent of the city’s population. Generic plug-in waterfronts (like the Baltimore Inner Harbor, New York's East River Waterfront and, yes, HafenCity) are the product of a simple equation between developers and city governments.

In these scenarios, architecture is "icing on the cake," a broken, out-dated profession, validated at random by an "unstable ideological environment" that changes according to the whims of an ever-evolving bureaucracy.
Find "Koolhaas's Defense of Generic Architecture" by Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan here.


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