Rem Koolhaas: Architecture as Political Work

Rem Koolhaas
Architect Rem Koolhaas (pictured) speaks to students and faculty in Piper Auditorium at Harvard Graduate School of Design. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

Rem Koolhaas gave a lecture yesterday at Harvard GSD expressing his condemnation of architecture’s passivity and its inability and unwillingness to confront or resolve the socio-political complexities of urban life.

His eloquent criticism of contemporary society rhetoric included phrases such as: “People over 50 have a tendency to worry, and people under 50 have a tendency not to care”, and “I think that both the art world and the architecture world … are clearly dedicated to political correctness and therefore [are] pretty intolerant in terms of engaging” all reminiscent of the contemporary architectural scene.

It seems that once again, Koolhaas expresses what is more than a mere observation and has implications for pedagogy as mush as it does for the practicing professionals. As long as architectural schools emphasize on the generation of the form and its architectural expression and representation, the more the driving forces of this  creation process will move away from contemporary urban realities. This is why architectural schools need to engage in a more active way in the social, economic and environmental realm and consider the complexity of the cities before producing as Koolhaas says: something  between art and commerce. 

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