Trying to Keep Up with Rem Koolhaas – WSJ

Trying to Keep Up with Rem Koolhaas – WSJ.

He explains that architects used to be much more adventurous than they are now. Recent decades, he says, have seen an emphasis on comfort, security and sustainability, and “those three together form a new mantra that is beginning to dictate the norms of our society, which is replacing another mantra, which is liberté, egalité, fraternité.” All that, he says, leaves little room for “any creative process of transgression.”


Is he optimistic or pessimistic about the future of architecture? “I think it’s totally obvious that you can only be an architect if you’re profoundly and foolishly optimistic,” he says, “but you can also only be an architect if you’re profoundly critical, so you have to combine a relentless sense of criticism with a stupid optimism.” He adds, “It would actually be obscene if I was not optimistic.”

Still, Mr. Koolhaas’s views don’t sound that uplifting. He looks out across the water at the low Venetian skyline in the distance. “If you look here in this city, architecture was one of…the key ambitions that the entire city collectively had, but you only have to look at a contemporary city and see that it is less and less the case.” These days, “in terms of the hierarchy of qualities that any culture pursues, aesthetic perfection is very low,” he says with a laugh.


“Do you consider yourself a visionary?” He replies, “No, but I consider myself somebody with an unlimited amount of curiosity in an almost unlimited amount of directions.”