Urban Fold

The Disconnect Between Architecture and Everyday Use

A new film focuses on the life of a home designed by architect Rem Koolhaas for a client in a wheelchair, which radically redefines domestic living, and the results of the experiment when put to actual use.

Famed architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable brings us this review of the film "Koolhaas Houselife."

"What we are really talking about are two houses: the one with the buffed and polished public image, dramatically photographed and perfectly photoshopped, ready for a fashion shoot on an ideal day; and the house where people live and deal with the paradox of a building that exhilarates and breaks down in equal measure. It is this latter house that the film explores from the point of view of those who use and maintain it. And it is the gap between the conceptual and the actual, how architecture intersects with a world unprepared to cope with the unusual demands of a work of art, that is its deeper and more significant theme, something glossed over or carefully avoided by the architectural establishment because acknowledging the disconnect might somehow deny or distract from the creative act."

Full Story: Ingenious and Demanding



Koolhaas Obfuscates

Avant gardist architects must take a course where they learn to invent dense, vacuous theortical justifications for their work. This video gives a perfect example:

Huxtable says: "One sequence shows her aggressive cleaning of one of the house's most offputting features, a punitive spiral stair consisting only of toe holds in a round concrete void open to the rain, unfazed by the seeming impossibility of dragging a vacuum up it. Mr. Koolhaas is momentarily flummoxed by the irreconcilability of his architecture and her cleaning methods."

But but after a moment of hesitation, Koolhaas responds:
"You see two systems colliding - the kind of platonic conception of cleaning and the platonic conception of architecture. It is not necessarily daily life confronting an exceptional structure. It is two ideologies confronting each other."

It is hard for her to drag the vacuum cleaner up his bizarre staircase, but that is not a problem in her daily life. No, it is her ideology, her Platonic conception of cleaning, that is at fault.

Charles Siegel

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