Ecological Urbanism //1

Advancement versus Apocalupse

Rem Koolhaus


"I did not assume that anyone in the academic world would ask a practicing architect in the twenty-first century, given the architecture that we currently produce, to participate in a volume on ecological urbanism. So I’m very grateful that you challenge me, but I am also deeply aware that my participation is defined by this doubt and this condition.”


"I was taught in a school where tropical architecture was still on the curriculum (London, 1968). Although I didn’t take it entirely seriously, I was fascinated by its teachers who taught us an incredible respect for the landscape. They taught us to look at other cities to see how they work, and to look at seemingly nonarchitechtural environments. For them, no issue was too humble or too lowly.”

"That kind of humility in architectural education has practically disappeared."


The concept of humility for me bleeds heavily into an inner debate I’ve had for a long time over the validity or existence of true altruism. Egotistical designers are none but a speck on the peripheral of this consideration; at face value and standard stigmas applied, they (we?) are just representations of a social catalyst. That doesn’t take them (us?) off the hook, its just cataloging in an attempt to free up a point I wanted to address in Rem Koolhaus’s statement. 

I honestly don’t care anymore how or why we’ve been ushered into this era of mass awareness of ecology and system understanding. We’re here and whoever wants to grab the credit can drag their discipline into the limelight. The point is that once you’ve facilitated the next step towards a consensus driven “good”, what is your motivation for the next step? This begs the question, what was your motivation for the prior effort?

The thing that I fear is that landscape architecture (or whatever variation on the wording of the discipline is applicable now) is frantically climbing over the back of its own humble past in an attempt to gain the nobility of its rival profession. Its been subdued by a hierarchy, and a new cultural climate has arisen thats catapulted it into a greater, almost ultimate relevancy. The youth being fostered into design sequences are progressively being ladened with more and more curriculum that attempts to intensify and justify the relevance of landscape architecture. Its as if a door has been opened. Opened by someone that wants us to go in and not look back. Join the ranks, look down on those who need design and relish in our roles as providers. 

I don’t lament architecture, architects, nor where I think landscape architecture is headed. I only have an unpolished opinion on the nature and existence of altruism, and the lack of resolve in my understanding here causes me to question my and our decisions in the manipulation of material for the sake of a dominant species. 

I can’t write these responses very well. I get sidetracked too easily.

  1. georgekutnar posted this