Tug-of-War Between Preservation and Progress

Rem Koolhaas laments the expansion of historic preservation, saying that inevitably "We will preserve things before they are even finished."

Koolhaas has some fairly unique ideas about how to stop preservation from becoming all-powerful:

"...Koolhaas proposed - at least semi-seriously - that UNESCO create a "Convention Concerning the Demolition of World Cultural Junk" to complement its "Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and National Heritage." He also presented a preservationist scheme that he had dreamed up for Beijing, a kind of parody of Le Corbusier's infamous Plan Voisin that would have torn up Paris to put in a grid of utopian sky-scraper tower blocks. Koolhaas proposes zoning a regular grid of boxes onto the map of the city. Everything within their borders would be preserved, whereas everything outside of them would be fair game to destroy. The complete formal neutrality would guarantee that a cross-section of material was saved, without political arguments getting in the way, thereby freeing up the urban fabric for salutary change."

More from Ben Davis reporting on an exhibition by Koolhaas at the New Museum at ARTINFO.

Full Story: Can Rem Koolhaas Save Architecture From Preservation?


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