Urban Fold

Cities are Machines for Emancipation

In an interview with the Journal of International Affairs, Rem Koolhaas discusses the effects of globalization on architectural practice and cultural identity, and what city he thinks will be the "Rosetta Stone" of the 21st century.

Next American City has excerpted an interview with Koolhaas that appeared in the JIA's recent issue on "The Future of the City." In it, Koolhaas discusses the impacts of globalization on architecture, including the positive effect that his firm's recent work in the developing world has had on his office, and the spiky way (to paraphrase Richard Florida) in which globalization has effected national and cultural identity.

Koolhaas also describes the evolution of the city in the 21st century:

"The reinvention and the re-imagining of cities is taking place all over the world. The energy that inspires reinvention either comes from pressure - when negative forces lead to a breakthrough, which is what I noticed in Lagos - or cities get their energy from striving. Cities are machines for emancipation. When the striving for emancipation is at its most intense, when there is the clearest promise of success, change is at its most intense. That is why cities in the West are so morose. We can strive until we're blue in the face, but we have nothing to change, at least not in the way that other parts of the world will change. In these places - particularly in the Middle East and Africa - real change is happening now."

Full Story: INTERVIEW: Rem Koolhaas on the Invention and Reinvention of the City


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