1   b   c   d   e   f   g   h   i   j   k   l   m   n   o   p   q   r   s   t   u   v   w   x   y   z

Rem Koolhaas


"Logan Airport : a world-class upgrade for the 21st century" (Late 20th century billboard)
Rabbit is the new beef.... Because we abhor the utilitarian, we have condemned ourselves to a life-long immersion in the arbitrary.... LAX: welcoming - possibly flesh-eating - orchids at the check-in counter.... 'Identity' is the new junk food for the dispossessed, globalization's fodder for the disenfranchised.... If space-junk is the human debris that litters the universe, junk-space is the residue mankind leaves on the planet. The built (more about that later) product of modernization is not modern architecture but Junkspace. Junkspace is what remains after modernization has run its course or, more precisely, what coagulates while modernization is in progress, its fallout. Modernization had a rational program: to share the blessings of science, universally. Junkspace is its apotheosis, or meltdown.... Although its individual parts are the outcome of brilliant inventions, lucidly planned by human intelligence, boosted by infinite computation, their sum spells the end of Enlightenment, its resurrection as farce, a low-grade purgatory.... Junkspace is the sum total of our current achievement; we have built more than all previous generations together, but somehow we do not register on the same scales. We do not leave pyramids. According to a new gospel of ugliness, there is already more Junkspace under construction in the 21st century than survived from the 20th.... It was a mistake to invent modern architecture for the 20th century. Architecture disappeared in the 20th century; we have been reading a footnote under a microscope hoping it would turn into a novel; our concern for the masses has blinded us to People's Architecture. Junkspace seems an aberration, but it is essence, the main thing... product of the encounter between escalator and air conditioning, conceived in an incubator of sheetrock (all three missing from the history books). Continuity is the essence of Junkspace; it exploits any invention that enables expansion, deploys the infrastructure of seamlessness: escalator, air conditioning, sprinkler, fire shutter, hot-air curtain.... It is always interior, so extensive that you rarely perceive limits; it promotes disorientation by any means (mirror, polish, echo).... Junkspace is sealed, held together not by structure, but by skin, like a bubble. Gravity has remained constant, resisted by the same arsenal since the beginning of time; but air conditioning - invisible medium, therefore unnoticed - has truly revolutionized architecture. Air conditioning has launched the endless building. If architecture separates buildings, air conditioning unites them. Air conditioning has dictated mutant regimes of organization and coexistence that leave architecture behind. A single shopping center now is the work of generations of space planners, repairmen and fixers, like in the Middle Ages; air conditioning sustains our cathedrals. (Unwittingly, all architects may be working on the same building, so far separate, but with hidden receptors that will eventually make it cohere.) Because it costs money, is no longer free, conditioned space inevitably becomes conditional space; sooner or later all conditional space turns into Junkspace.... When we think about space, we have only looked at its containers. As if space itself is invisible, all theory for the production of space is based on an obsessive preoccupation with its opposite: substance and objects, i.e., architecture. Architects could never explain space; Junkspace is our punishment for their mystifications. OK, let's talk about space then. The beauty of airports, especially after each upgrade. The luster of renovations. The subtlety of the shopping center. Let's explore public space, discover casinos, spend time in theme parks.... Junkspace is the body double of space, a territory of impaired vision, limited expectation, reduced earnestness. Junkspace is a Bermuda triangle of concepts, a petri dish abandoned: it cancels distinctions, undermines resolve, confuses intention with realization. It replaces hierarchy with accumulation, composition with addition. More and more, more is more. Junkspace is overripe and undernourishing at the same time, a colossal security blanket that covers the earth in a stranglehold of seduction.... Junkspace is like being condemned to a perpetual Jacuzzi with millions of your best friends.... A fuzzy empire of blur, it fuses high and low, public and private, straight and bent, bloated and starved to offer a seamless patchwork of the permanently disjointed. Seemingly an apotheosis, spatially grandiose, the effect of its richness is a terminal hollowness, a vicious parody of ambition that systematically erodes the credibility of building, possibly forever.... Space was created by piling matter on top of matter, cemented to form a solid new whole. Junkspace is additive, layered and lightweight, not articulated in different parts but subdivided, quartered the way a carcass is torn apart - individual chunks severed from a universal condition. There are no walls, only partitions, shimmering membranes frequently covered in mirror or gold. Structure groans invisibly underneath decoration, or worse, has become ornamental; small shiny space frames support nominal loads, or huge beams deliver cyclopic burdens to unsuspecting destinations.... The arch, once the workhorse of structures, has become the depleted emblem of 'community,' welcoming an infinity of virtual populations to non-existent there's. Where it is absent, it is simply applied - mostly in stucco - as ornamental afterthought on hurriedly erected superblocks. Junkspace's iconography is 13% Roman, 8% Bauhaus and 7% Disney (neck and neck), 3% Art Nouveau, followed closely by Mayan.... Like a substance that could have condensed in any other form, Junkspace is a domain of feigned, simulated order, a kingdom of morphing. Its specific configuration is as fortuitous as the geometry of a snowflake. Patterns imply repetition or ultimately decipherable rules; Junkspace is beyond measure, beyond code.... Because it cannot be grasped, Junkspace cannot be remembered. It is flamboyant yet unmemorable, like a screensaver; its refusal to freeze insures instant amnesia. Junkspace does not pretend to create perfection, only interest. Its geometries are unimaginable, only makeable. Although strictly non-architectural, it tends to the vaulted, to the Dome. Sections seem to be devoted to utter inertness, others in perpetual rhetorical turmoil: the deadest resides next to the most hysterical. Themes cast a pall of arrested development over interiors as big as the Pantheon, spawning stillbirths in every corner. The aesthetic is Byzantine, gorgeous and dark, splintered into thousands of shards, all visible at the same time: a quasi-panoptical universe in which all contents rearrange themselves in split-seconds around the dizzy eye of the beholder. Murals used to show idols; Junkspace's modules are dimensioned to carry brands; myths can be shared, brands husband aura at the mercy of focus groups. Brands in Junkspace perform the same role as black holes in the universe: essences through which meaning disappears.... The shiniest surfaces in the history of mankind reflect humanity at its most casual. The more we inhabit the palatial, the more we seem to dress down. A stringent dress code - last spasm of etiquette? - governs access to Junkspace: short, sneaker, sandal, shell suit, fleece, jean, parka, backpack. As if the People suddenly accessed the private quarters of a dictator, Junkspace is best enjoyed in a state of post-revolutionary gawking. Polarities have merged, there is nothing left between desolation and frenzy. Neon signifies both the old and the new; interiors refer to the Stone and the Space Age at the same time. Like the deactivated virus in an inoculation, Modern architecture remains essential, but only in its most sterile manifestation, High Tech (it seemed so dead only a decade ago!). It exposes what previous generations kept under wraps: structures emerge like springs from a mattress, exit stairs dangle in didactic trapeze, probes thrust into space to deliver laboriously what is in fact omnipresent, free air, acres of glass hang from spidery cables, tautly stretched skins enclose flaccid non-events. Transparency only reveals everything in which you cannot partake. At the sound of midnight it all may revert to Taiwanese Gothic, in three years segue into Nigerian Sixties, Norwegian Chalet or default Christian. Earthlings now live in a kindergarten grotesque.... Junkspace thrives on design, but design dies in Junkspace. There is no form, only proliferation.... Regurgitation is the new creativity; instead of creation, we honor, cherish and embrace manipulation....

Superstrings of graphics, transplanted emblems of franchise and sparkling infrastructures of light, LEDs, and video describe an authorless world beyond anyone's claim, always unique, utterly unpredictable, yet intensely familiar. Junkspace is hot (or suddenly artic); fluorescent walls, folded like melting stained glass, generate additional heat to raise the temperature of Junkspace to levels where you could cultivate orchids. Pretending histories left and right, its contents are dynamic yet stagnant, recycled or multiplied as in cloning: forms search for function like hermit crabs for a vacant shell.... Junkspace sheds architectures like a reptile sheds skins, is reborn every Monday morning. In previous building, materiality was based on a final state that could only be modified at the expense of partial destruction. At the exact moment that our culture has abandoned repetition and regularity as repressive, building materials have become more and more modular, unitary and standardized; substance now comes predigitized.... As the module becomes smaller and smaller, its status becomes that of a crypto-pixel. With enormous difficulty - budget, argument, negotiation, deformation - irregularity and uniqueness are constructed from identical elements. Instead of trying to wrest order from chaos, the picturesque now is wrested from the homogenized, the singular liberated from the standardized.... Architects thought of Junkspace first and named it Megastructure, the final solution to transcend their huge impasse. Like multiple Babels, huge superstructures would last through eternity, teeming with impermanent subsystems that would mutate over time, beyond their control. In Junkspace, the tables are turned: it is subsystems only, without superstructure, orphaned particles in search of framework or pattern. All materialization is provisional: cutting, bending, tearing, coating: construction has acquired a new softness, like tailoring.... The joint is no longer a problem, an intellectual issue: transitional moments are defined by stapling and taping, wrinkly brown bands barely maintain the illusion of an unbroken surface; verbs unknown and unthinkable in architectural history - clamp, stick, fold, dump, glue, shoot, double, fuse - have become indispensable. Each element performs its task in negotiated isolation. Where once detailing suggested the coming together, possibly forever, of disparate materials, it is now a transient coupling, waiting to be undone, unscrewed, a temporary embrace with a high probability of separation; no longer the orchestrated encounter of difference, but the abrupt end of a system, a stalemate. Only the blind, reading its fault lines with their fingertips, will ever understand Junkspace's histories.... While whole millennia worked in favor of permanence, axialities, relationships and proportion, the program of Junkspace is escalation. Instead of development, it offers entropy. Because it is endless, it always leaks somewhere in Junkspace; in the worst case, monumental ashtrays catch intermittent drops in a gray broth.... When did time stop moving forward, begin to spool in every direction, like a tape spinning out of control? Since the introduction of Real Time™? Change has been divorced from the idea of improvement. There is no progress; like a crab on LSD, culture staggers endlessly sideways.... The average contemporary lunch box is a microcosm of Junkspace: a fervent semantics of health - slabs of eggplant, topped by thick layers of goat cheese - cancelled by a colossal cookie at the bottom.... Junkspace is draining and is drained in return. Everywhere in Junkspace there are seating arrangements, ranges of modular chairs, even couches, as if the experience Junkspace offers its consumers is significantly more exhausting than any previous spatial sensation; in its most abandoned stretches, you find buffets: utilitarian tables draped in white or black sheets, perfunctory assemblies of caffeine and calories - cottage cheese, muffins, unripe grapes - notional representations of plenty, without horn and without plenty. Each Junkspace is connected, sooner or later, to bodily functions: wedged between stainless-steel partitions sit rows of groaning Romans, denim togas bunched around their huge sneakers.... Because it is so intensely consumed, Junkspace is fanatically maintained, the night shift undoing the damage of the day shift in an endless Sisyphean replay. As you recover from Junkspace, Junkspace recovers from you: between 2 and 5 am, yet another population, this one heartlessly casual and appreciably darker, is mopping, hovering, sweeping, toweling, resupplying.... Junkspace does not inspire loyalty in its cleaners....

Dedicated to instant gratification, Junkspace accommodates seeds of future perfection; a language of apology is woven through its texture of canned euphoria; 'pardon our appearance' signs or miniature yellow 'sorry' billboards mark ongoing patches of wetness, announce momentary discomfort in return for imminent shine, the allure of improvement. Somewhere, workers sink on their knees to repair faded sections - as if in a prayer - or half-disappear in ceiling voids to negotiate elusive malfunction - as if in confession. All surfaces are archaeological, superpositions of different 'periods' (what do you call the moment a particular type of wall-to-wall carpet was current?) - as you note when they're torn.... Traditionally, typology implies demarcation, the definition of a singular model that excludes other arrangements. Junkspace represents a reverse typology of cumulative, approximative identity, less about kind than about quantity. But formlessness is still form, the formless also a typology.... Take the dump, where successive trucks discharge their loads to form a heap, whole in spite of the randomness of its contents and its fundamental shapelessness, or that of the tent-envelope that assumes different shapes to accommodate variable interior volumes. Or the vague crotches of the new generation. Junkspace can either be absolutely chaotic or frighteningly aseptic - like a best-seller - overdetermined and indeterminate at the same time. There is something strange about ballrooms, for instance: huge wastelands kept column-free for ultimate flexibility. Because you've never been invited to that kind of event, you have never seen them in use, only being prepared with chilling precision: a relentless grid of circular tables, extending towards a distant horizon, their diameters preempting communication, a dais big enough for the politburo of a totalitarian state, wings announcing as yet unimagined surprises - acres of organization to support future drunkenness, disarray and disorder. Or car shows.... Junkspace is often described as a space of flows, but that is a misnomer; flows depend on disciplined movement, bodies that cohere. Junkspace is a web without spider; although it is an architecture of the masses, each trajectory is strictly unique. Its anarchy is one of the last tangible ways in which we experience freedom. It is a space of collision, a container of atoms, busy, not dense.... There is a special way of moving in Junkspace, at the same time aimless and purposeful. It is an acquired culture. Junkspace features the tyranny of the oblivious: sometimes an entire Junkspace comes unstuck through the non-conformity of one of its members; a single citizen of an another culture - a refugee, a mother - can destabilize an entire Junkspace, hold it to a rustic's ransom, leaving an invisible swath of obstruction in his/her wake, a deregulation eventually communicated to its furthest extremities. Where movement becomes synchronized, it curdles: on escalators, near exits, parking machines, automated tellers. Sometimes, under duress, individuals are channeled in a flow, pushed through a single door or forced to negotiate the gap between two temporary obstacles (an invalid's bleeping chariot and a Christmas tree): the manifest ill will such narrowing provokes, mocks the notion of flows. Flows in Junkspace lead to disaster: department stores at the beginning of sales, the stampedes triggered by warring compartments of soccer fans, dead bodies piling up in front of the locked emergency doors of a disco: evidence of the misfit between the portals of Junkspace and the narrow calibrations of the old world. The young instinctively avoid the Dantesque manipulations/containers to which Junkspace has condemned their elders in perpetuity. Within the meta-playground of Junkspace exist smaller playgrounds, Junkspace for children (usually in the least desirable square footage): sections of sudden miniaturization - often underneath staircases, always near dead ends - assemblies of under-dimensioned plastic structures - slides, seesaws, swings - shunned by their intended audience - kids - turned into junkniche for the old, the lost, the forgotten, the insane... last hiccup of humanism.... Traffic is Junkspace, from airspace to the subway; the entire highway system is Junkspace, a vast potential utopia clogged by its users, as you notice when they've finally disappeared on vacation.... Like radioactive waste, Junkspace has an insidious half-life. Aging in Junkspace is nonexistent or catastrophic; sometimes an entire Junkspace - a department store, a nightclub, a bachelor pad - turns into a slum overnight without warning: wattage diminishes imperceptibly, letters drop out of signs, air conditioning units start dripping, cracks appear as if from otherwise unregistered earthquakes; sections rot, are no longer viable, but remain joined to the flesh of the main body via gangrenous passages. Judging the built presumed a static condition; now each architecture embodies opposite conditions simultaneously: old and new, permanent and temporary, flourishing and at risk.... Sections undergo an Alzheimer-like deterioration as others are upgraded. Because Junkspace is endless, it is never closed.... Renovation and restoration were procedures that took place in your absence; now you're a witness, a reluctant participant.... Seeing Junkspace in conversion is like inspecting an unmade bed, someone else's. Say an airport needs more space. In the past new terminals were added, each more or less characteristic of its own age, leaving the old ones as a readable record, evidence of progress. Since passengers have definitively demonstrated their infinite malleability, the idea of rebuilding on the spot has gained currency. Travelators are thrown in reverse, signs taped, potted palms (or very large corpses) covered in body bags. Screens of taped sheetrock segregate two populations: one wet, one dry, one hard, one flabby, one cold, one overheated. Half the population produces new space, the more affluent half consumes old space. To accommodate a nether world of manual labor, the concourse suddenly turns into casbah: improvised locker rooms, coffee breaks, smoking, even real campfires.... The ceiling is a crumpled plate like the Alps; grids of unstable tiles alternate with monogrammed sheets of black plastic, improbably punctured by grids of crystal chandeliers.... Metal ducts are replaced by breathing textiles. Gaping joints reveal vast ceiling voids (former canyons of asbestos?), beams, ducting, rope, cable, insulation, fireproofing, string; tangled arrangements suddenly exposed to daylight. Impure, tortured and complex, they exist only because they were never consciously plotted. The floor is a patchwork: different textures - concrete, hairy, heavy, shiny, plastic, metallic, muddy – alternate randomly, as if dedicated to different species.... The ground is no more. There are too many raw needs to be realized on only one plane. The absolute horizontal has been abandoned. Transparency has disappeared, replaced by a dense crust of provisional occupation: kiosks, carts, strollers, palms, fountains, bars, sofas, trolleys.... Corridors no longer simply link A to B, but have become 'destinations.' Their tenant life tends to be short: the most stagnant windows, the most perfunctory dresses, the most implausible flowers. All perspective is gone, as in a rainforest (itself disappearing, they keep saying....). The formerly straight is coiled into ever more complex configurations. Only a perverse modernist choreography can explain the twists and turns, ascents and descents, sudden reversals that comprise the typical path from check-in (misleading name) to apron of the average contemporary airport. Because we never reconstruct or question the absurdity of these enforced dérives, we meekly submit to grotesque journeys past perfume, asylum seeker, building site, underwear, oysters, pornography, cell phone - incredible adventures for the brain, the eye, the nose, the tongue, the womb, the testicles.... There was once a polemic about the right angle and the straight line; now the 90th degree has become one among many. In fact, remnants of former geometries create ever new havoc, offering forlorn nodes of resistance that create unstable eddies in newly opportunistic flows.... Who would dare claim responsibility for this sequence? The idea that a profession once dictated, or at least presumed to predict, people's movements, now seems laughable, or worse: unthinkable. Instead of design, there is calculation: the more erratic the path, eccentric the loops, hidden the blueprint, the more efficient the exposure, inevitable the transaction. In this war, graphic designers are the great turncoats: where once signage promised to deliver you to where you wanted to be, it now obfuscates and entangles you in a thicket of cuteness that forces you past unwanted detours, turns you back when you're lost. Postmodernism adds a crumple-zone of viral poché that fractures and multiplies the endless frontline of display, a peristaltic shrink-wrap crucial to all commercial exchange. Trajectories are launched as ramp, turn horizontal without any warning, intersect, fold down, suddenly emerge on a vertiginous balcony above a large void. Fascism minus dictator. From the sudden dead end where you were dropped by a monumental, granite staircase, an escalator takes you to an invisible destination, facing a provisional vista of plaster, inspired by forgettable sources. (There is no datum level; you always inhabit a sandwich. 'Space' is scooped out of Junkspace as from a soggy block of ice cream that has languished too long in the freezer: cylindrical, cone shaped, more or less spherical, whatever....) Toilet groups mutate into Disney Store then morph to become meditation center: successive transformations mock the word 'plan.' The plan is a radar screen where individual pulses survive for unpredictable periods of time in a Bacchanalian free-for-all.... In this standoff between the redundant and the inevitable, a plan would actually make matters worse, drive you to instant despair. Only the diagram gives a bearable version. There is zero loyalty - and zero tolerance - toward configuration, no 'original' condition; architecture has turned into a time-lapse sequence to reveal a 'permanent evolution'.... The only certainty is conversion - continuous - followed, in rare cases, by 'restoration,' the process that claims ever new sections of history as extensions of Junkspace. History corrupts, absolute history corrupts absolutely. Color and matter are eliminated from these bloodless grafts: the bland has become the only meeting ground for the old and the new.... Can the bland be amplified? The featureless be exaggerated? Through height? Depth? Length? Variation? Repetition? Sometimes not overload but its opposite, an absolute absence of detail, generates Junkspace. A voided condition of frightening sparseness, shocking proof that so much can be organized by so little. Laughable emptiness infuses the respectful distance or tentative embrace that starchitects maintain in the presence of the past, authentic or not. Invariably, the primordial decision is to leave the original intact; the formerly residual is declared the new essence, focus of the intervention. As a first step, the substance to be preserved is wrapped in a thick pack of commerce and catering - like a reluctant skier pushed downhill by responsible minders. To show respect, symmetries are maintained and helplessly exaggerated; ancient building techniques are resurrected and honed to irrelevant shine, quarries reopened to excavate the 'same' stone, indiscreet donor names chiseled prominently in the meekest of typefaces; the courtyard covered by a masterful, structural 'filigree' - emphatically uncompetitive - so that continuity may be established with the 'rest' of Junkspace (abandoned galleries, display slums, Jurassic concepts....). Conditioning is applied; filtered daylight reveals vast, antiseptic expanses of monumental reticence and makes them come alive, vibrant as a computer rendering.... The curse of public space: latent fascism safely smothered in signage, stools, sympathy.... Junkspace is post-existential; it makes you uncertain where you are, obscures where you go, undoes where you were. Who do you think you are? Who do you want to be? (Note to architects: you thought that you could ignore Junkspace, visit it surreptitiously, treat it with condescending contempt or enjoy it vicariously... because you could not understand it, you've thrown away the keys.... But now your own architecture is infected, has become equally smooth, all-inclusive, continuous, warped, busy, atrium-ridden....) JunkSignature™ is the new architecture: the former megalomania of a profession contracted to manageable size, Junkspace minus its saving vulgarity. Anything stretched - limousines, body parts, planes - turns into Junkspace, its original concept abused. Restore, rearrange, reassemble, revamp, renovate, revise, recover, redesign, return - the Parthenon marbles - redo, respect, rent: verbs that start with re- produce Junkspace.... Junkspace will be our tomb. Half of mankind pollutes to produce, the other pollutes to consume. The combined pollution of all Third World cars, motorbikes, trucks, buses, sweatshops pales into insignificance compared to the heat generated by Junkspace. Junkspace is political: it depends on the central removal of the critical faculty in the name of comfort and pleasure. Politics has become manifesto by Photoshop, seamless blueprints of the mutually exclusive, arbitrated by opaque NGOs. Comfort is the new Justice. Entire miniature states now adopt Junkspace as political program, establish regimes of engineered disorientation, instigate a politics of systematic disarray. Not exactly 'anything goes'; in fact, the secret of Junkspace is that it is both promiscuous and repressive: as the formless proliferates, the formal withers, and with it all rules, regulations, recourse.... Babel has been misunderstood. Language is not the problem, just the new frontier of Junkspace. Mankind, torn by eternal dilemmas, the impasse of seemingly endless debates, has launched a new language that straddles unbridgeable divides like a fragile designer's footbridge... coined a proactive wave of new oxymorons to suspend former incompatibility: life/style, reality/TV, world/music, museum/ store, food/court, health/care, waiting/lounge. Naming has replaced class struggle, sonorous amalgamations of status, high-concept and history. Through acronym, unusual importation, suppressing letters, or fabrication of non-existent plurals, they aim to shed meaning in return for a spacious new roominess.... Junkspace knows all your emotions, all your desires. It is the interior of Big Brother's belly. It preempts people's sensations. It comes with a soundtrack, smell, captions; it blatantly proclaims how it wants to be read: rich, stunning, cool, huge, abstract, 'minimal,' historical. It sponsors a collective of brooding consumers in surly anticipation of their next spend, a mass of refractory periods caught in a Thousand Year Reign of Razzmatazz, a paroxysm of prosperity. The subject is stripped of privacy in return for access to a credit nirvana. You are complicit in the tracing of the fingerprints each of your transactions leaves; they know everything about you, except who you are. Emissaries of Junkspace pursue you in the formerly impervious privacy of the bedroom: the minibar, private fax machines, pay TV offering compromised pornography, fresh plastic veils wrapping toilets seats, courtesy condoms: miniature profit centers coexist with your bedside bible....



Quondam © 2020.12.02