chapter  5
32 Pages

Rem Koolhaas: Exuberant Object of Delight

The previous chapter, on Bernard Tschumi, is now followed by chapters on Rem Koolhaas and Zaha Hadid respectively. The decision for this sequencing is to draw attention to the extent to which the work of Russian constructivism colors the work of all three. If the reader agrees with this author’s historicization of Mies van der Rohe in the broader consideration of the project of modernity,1 then, it is plausible to posit the following: the Miesian exhaustion of the tectonic of steel and glass architecture left postmodernists with the choice of considering history as a backward move forward. Instead of re-thinking the closure Mies had established during his American tenure, or siding with those who turned to the simulation of historical forms, these three architects reworked various aspects of constructivism outside of the historicity of the project of the historical avant-garde. This is not to dismiss their disparities, but to highlight each of these mentioned architects’ take on the concept of otherness. We are not concerned with the otherness of the vernacular as compared with classical architecture, or the otherness implied in pitting the low arts against the high arts. Instead, we have in mind Oswald Mathias Ungers’ “cities within the city,” a concept that Koolhaas was aware of through his collaboration with Ungers during the 1970s.2