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The Bigness of Rem Koolhaas -- and its ambivalences

Grant number: 12/21502-1
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2013
Effective date (End): May 31, 2015
Field of knowledge:Interdisciplinary Subjects
Principal researcher:Celso Fernando Favaretto
Grantee:Paolo Colosso
Home Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


This paper systematizes concepts, perspectives and projects of Rem Koolhaas, in order to understand in which sense the position of the architect can contribute to problematization about contemporary metropolises. Assuming that his theoretical and architectural works should be considered together, our analysis has as leitmotiv the concept of Bigness - the hiperarchitecture with urban intentions - and architectural works that materializes theorical postulates of Bigness: 1)the Zeebrudge Terminal(1989); 2) The Library of Paris(1989); 3) the urban plan of Lille in France(1989-1994). Specifically, the aim of our work is translated in two questions: i) to what extent the proposed architecture provided with Bigness can contribute to the reactivation of urban life, and ii) in what moments works as the production of texts and graphic images have themselves critical potential able to reveal contradictions and lacks of settled meanings. The method is bibliographic analysis of texts and projects. Concerning methodological procedures, this paper analyses Koolhaas works in a interdisciplinary way, following the orientation in which the architecture is insert in a frame of historical, social and economical process. In these interdisciplinary procedures we adopt the theorical prism of the marxist aehestetic as developed by the tradition of Critical Theory of Society. Our immediate reference is Fredric Jameson, who analyses Koolhaas works several times. Jameson characterizes the aesthetic field as an semi-autonomous sphere that, despite its own history, establishes several mediations with social totality. Thus, we can evaluate architectural manifestations critically, so that we understand more clearly their meanings in the social entire. Concerning the way of analysis, this work is divided in four parts. At first, we analyze the origins of an architecture with urban intention as it is seen in the concept of culture of congestion, presentd in Koolhaas´ first texts. In this first section, we highlight the general guidelines in the architect´s works: the orientation that aims to face the so called metropolitan condition without utopias, the ambivalent position - enthusiastic and critic - before the dense urban life, the skyscraper and other modernization forces in the metropolis. In a second moment, we analyze the concept of Bigness based on several texts: in the one whose title is Bigness, in the For a Contemporary City , in the Beyond the Delirious and in interviews that clarifies the various aspects and scopes of this concept. In this section we attempt to the relations between Koolhaas diagnosis of the metropolis and his architectural propositions with urban proportions. We analyzes the quoted works, underlying in which extent projectual devices are linked to extra-large architectural postulates through the ideas of program, of free section and other item that intend to reinforce the operational character of the architecture. In the third moment, we elucidate Koolhaas´ revaluations about his own possibilities, in 2000´s texts. Finally, we present more carefully some critical analysis of Koolhaas works. This project is justified by the importance that Koolhaas has in the contemporary panorama with his proposals that intend to be realistic and also critical to the utopias and to the architectures that abandon completely the rationalization of the city. And the polemic way of presenting these proposals put Koolhaas in the center of architectural debates.

Academic Publications
(References retrieved automatically from State of São Paulo Research Institutions)
COLOSSO, Paolo. Rem Koolhaas in delirious metropolis: between Bigness and big business. 2015. Master's Dissertation - Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas São Paulo.

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