Exodus, the empire of the cynic | Miquel Lacasta Codorniu

Exodus by Rem Koolhaas | thefunambulist.net

Exoduses the project with which Rem Koolhaas got in the international scene of the architecture in 1972 1. Rem Koolhaas was formed as architect in the Architectural Association of London, where he studied from 1968 to 1972. The Architectural Association was in this moment an anarchic environment where Peter Cook was marking the guideline,2 but where Leon Krier and Charles Jencks were making feel equally his presence. In an interview, Koolhaas declares that this environment was presenting a real challenge for him, since were at a height of his expectations of many different ways3.

The wall of Berlin like Architecture4 was the first provocation, with which it answered to this challenge. Koolhaas was assigned, as to his companions in the AA, to study and to analyze an existing building. He chose the wall of Berlin. In the summer of 1971, he visited the city and two things struck him especially. The first age the fact that the wall is not orientated in the direction North South, since the ingenuous idea of Curtain of Iron supposed, but, rather, it was surrounding West Berlin. The supposed free city was really a walled enclave. The second one was that it realized that the wall not only was formed architectonically speaking about different forms: wire of prongs, the emptiness, walls of concrete of prefabricated slabs, but also was transforming the surrounding buildings on having blocked with factory of brick all his windows.

“The major surprise was the following one: the wall was descorazonadamente beautiful”.5

This experience put in evidence the ambiguous power of the architecture.

The introduction to the reality of Berlin, generated later the provocation to the orthodoxy hippie of the AA: Exodus of 1972.6 The introduction to the reality of Berlin, generated later the provocation to the orthodoxy hippie of the AA: Exodus of 1972.6 Was the first time that Rem Koolhaas, Elia Zenghelis, Madelon Vriesendorp y Zoe Zenghelis officially were joining his forces, both first ones like the designers and both last ones as illustrative. Koolhaas and his former teacher Elia Zenghelis designed and wrote a project as a band that was crossing the straight side of London, an architectural paradise destined to incite the Londoners to leave his moonstruck metropolis in mass, to end up at an environment that expires with all his dreams – and his nightmares-. This powerful image met reinforced with collages, axonometrías and paintings, which give to the project a peculiar intensity. The echoes of Berlin are present of out-standing form, not only in the concept, but also in the collages.

Exodus was created as an offer for a contest on The city as a significant environment organized by the magazine Casabella. It published for the first time in June, 1973. Illustrating the front page of the magazine an image appears, captivating, collage realized by Madelon Vriesendorp in whom a pair of peasants of Millet, devoutly bending the head to recite the Ángelus, they are placed opposite to the threatening backdrop of a wall by wire of prongs in the top part and behind a tower of alertness. Millet’s rich field has been replaced with a net of monotonous white pieces of marble; to the left side and the right, reflexes of green and gray indicate that still there can be some remains of land and of nature.

What the project tries, in agreement with an interview realized to Koolhaas in 1988, was a critique of the innocence and the optimism without limits that characterize the visionary architecture of 1960. In turn, it wants to be a demonstration of the architecture of the power and of the power of the architecture; In fact, OMA, with his project, wanted to emphasize in that the power of the architecture is more ambiguous and dangerous. (…) Exodus proposes to erase a section of the center of London to establish there a zone of very metropolitan life, inspired by Baudelaire, and to protect this zone of the ancient city with walls, creating the maximum diversity and the maximum contrast. The citizens of London could choose: those who wanted to be admitted into this zone of hyper-intensity were turning into The Voluntary prisoners of the Architecture”.7 In agreement with Exodus’s prologue, the project real aspires to make the impact of the wall of Berlin: ” It is possible to imagine an image reflection of this frightening architecture, a force as intense as devastating, but by contrast used here to the service of positive intentions.8

The inhabitants of this architecture, it sufficiently strong as to love this, would experience a paradoxical liberation: A freedom extasiante in losconfines of them architectural.9

Exodus, the linear city walled of London, orientated from west to this one, is between Hyde Park and Regent’s Park, and consists of 10 squares: the Tip of the Strip, the point in which the construction of the wall continues as city, the Allotments, the Park of the Four Elements, the Ceremonial Square, the Receipt Area, with a sight of the cover, the Central Area, the cut of a fragment preserved of London with Nash’s architecture, the Baths, the Square of the Arts, the Institute of Biological Transactions, and the Park of Aggression.1o The famous perspective here published can be in all the Exodus’s publications and allows to visualize these spaces from Tip of Strip up to The Baths.

Against the destructive spirit that, according to him the same Natalini, wants to go so far away like to leave the architecture, and against Tafuri’s pessimism of a negative dialectics of the forefront, Koolhaas and Zenghelis postulate the belief in the power of the architecture as a hedonistic science, as well as a baudelerian affirmation of a feverish urbanity. Koolhaas and Zenghelis emphasize in the fact that Exodus is a reaction against, which in this moment they were considering, an outlawing of the architecture, especially of the modern architecture.

Koolhaas’s later path has demonstrated that in Exodus one gives the first reading to half a way between the cynicism and emaciated, so own proposition of the architect in his infinity of later offers. Far from doing of the negatividad an unproductive attitude, Koolhaas has could promote a hard look on the reality, assuming, it yes, the paradoxes of the capitalist system and his multiple contradictions.

I do not believe that it could be said that Koolhaas is a born utopista, rather on the contrary, but well it can be said that it has been capable of carrying out projects and visions more nearby to the spirit of the Utopias of the 60 than to the pragmatic moderation of so many people and so many later projects of many of his colleagues.

Probably the cynicism is an engine of the architecture.

Miquel Lacasta. Doctor architect

Barcelona, october 2012


1 Architecture was initially published Exodus by Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis in Exodus or the Voluntary Prisoners of in Casabella, núm. 378 in June, 1973, pp. 42-45. The official publication is Exodus in Scullery for Metropolitan Architecture, Rem Koolhaas and Bruce Mau, S, M, X, the XLth. Ed. 010, Rotterdam and Montacelli Press, New York, 1995, pp. 5-21. The complete publication is Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis with Madelon Vriesendorp y Zoe Zenghelis, Exodus or the Voluntary Prisoners of Architecture, KIPNIS J. (ed), Perfect Acts of Architecture, MoMA, New York, 2002, pp. 16-33

2 “There there was Peter Cook, who like Robespierre, created a kingdom of terror-flower power”Of the original one “il y avait Peter Cook qui, comme un Robespierre, faisait régner la terreure-flower power”.

GOULET, Patrice, La dauxième chance de l’architecture moderne… entretien avec Rem Koolhaas. L’Architecture d’Ajourd’hui, núm. 238, Abril 1985, París, p. 2 Note: translation of the author.

3 Idem.

4 It´s published as Field Trip. A(A) Memoir.( First and Last…), en KOOLHAAS, Rem y MAU, Bruce, S,M,X,XL. 010, Rotterdam y Montacelli Press, Nueva York, 1995, pp. 215-231.

5 Ibídem, p. 226. The greatest surprise: The wall was heartbreakingly beautiful. …más adelante: The wall suggested that architecture’s beauty was directly proportional to its horror, “The wall was suggesting that the beauty in architecture was directly proportional to the horror that it was representing”. Note: translation of the author.

6 Simultaneously it was Koolhaas’s farewell as student of the AA: J’ai en tout cas fait en sorte d’echapper à la cinquième et dernière année de l’étude pour éviter la confrontation terrible que Peter Cook m’avait promise. ”Anyhow I slipped away and avoided the fifth and last year so that he was avoiding the terrible confrontation that Peter Cook had promised me”. Op. Cit., GOULET, p. 2 Note: translation of the author. In this respect Exodus was actually a farewell, a flight.

7 KOOLHAAS, Rem, Sixteen Years of OMA, Revista A+U, núm. 10, Tokio, 1988, p. 10

8 Op. Cit., KOOLHAAS, MAU, 1995. p. 5.

9 Ibídem. p. 7.

10 I have wanted to support the own names of every area in English due to the specificity of each one of them, treating it as own names. A description of every space can be in Op. Cit., KOOLHAAS, MAU, 1995 pp. 7 a 17.

Es cofundador en ARCHIKUBIK y también en @kubik – espacio multidisciplinario. Obtuvo un Ph.D. con honores (cum laude) en ESARQ Universitat Internacional de Catalunya UIC y también fue galardonado con el premio especial Ph.D (UIC 2012), M.arch en ESARQ Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, y se graduó como arquitecto en ETSAB Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya . Miquel es profesor asociado en ESARQ desde 1996. Anteriormente, fue profesor en Elisava y Escola LAI, y también en programas de postgrado en ETSAB y La Salle. Fue arquitecto en la oficina de Manuel Brullet desde 1989 desde 1995.


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