The modernist city – the city of meetings, encounters – is liquidated, in favor of a new urban form whose contours are not yet clear.

Boris Groys writes in: “The City in An Age of Touristic Reproduction.”

City walls once delineated the place where a city was built, clearly designating its utopian – ou-topian character. Indeed, the more utopian a city was signalled to be, the harder it was made to reach and enter this city, be it the Tibetan city of Lhasa, the celestial city of Jerusalem or Shambala in India. Traditionally cities isolated themselves from the rest of the world in order to make their own way into the future. So, a genuine city is not only utopian, it is also anti-tourist: it dissociates itself from space and moves through time.


In modern times, however, this utopian impulse, the quest for an ideal city, has grown progressively weaker and gradually been supplanted by the fascination of tourism. Today, when we cease to be satisfied with the life that is offered to us in our own cities, we no longer strive to change, revolutionize or rebuild this city; instead, we simply move to a new city – for a short period or forever – in search of what we miss in our home city. Mobility between cities – in all shades of tourism and migration – has radically altered our relationship to the city as well as the cities themselves. It is globalization and mobility that have fundamentally called the utopian character of the city into question by reinscribing the urban ou-topos into the topography of globalized space.1

At the apex of modernist New York, the clock provided an objective way of reading the city. “Suppose you were lost in New York without money or means of communication,” asks Mark Kingwell

and had to meet the one person who could help you. With no way of contacting this person… how would you do it? You go to Grand Central Terminal, at noon, and wait by the famous clock-capped information kiosk in the middle of the Grand concourse… Your party will be there too, because she also knows that this is the right answer. This is not because of some configuration of the universe, but, rather, because within the logic established by the city, the many superimposed grids of urban sense-making, this is what counts as the correct answer. It is conventional, not metaphysical; but it is not contingent because it could not be otherwise.

The clock generates “an objective way of reading the city, transparent in principle to all interested parties, which allows each to perceive the presence of the center.” The new media means of structuring spacetime displaces this centrality.


Groys suggests that the tourist is caught in an arms war with architecture. “Moreover, present-day urban architecture has now begun to move faster than its viewers. This architecture is almost always already there before the tourists arrive. In the time race between tourists and architecture it is now the tourist who loses. Although the tourist is annoyed to encounter the same architecture everywhere he goes, he is also amazed to see how successful a certain type of architecture has proved to be in a wide range of disparate cultural settings.”

“Architecture is the will of an epoch,” wrote Mies van der Rohe, “translated into space.” The annoyance of the tourist confronted with homogeneous smooth space is anchored by a blasé feeling (to take a term from Georg Simmel) with regards to infrastructure underpinning the emergence of spatial representations.

Architecture is changing. In the words of William Mitchell: “It’s an old script replayed with new actors. Silicon is the new steel, and the Internet is new railroad.” Bits become the building material of the present and future, and architecture mutates in function.


In his late text Comments on the Society of the Spectacle, Guy Debord warned of the coming of the integrated spectacle. What is an integrated spectacle besides for a theme park? In the text Debord opposes the spectacle to consciousness of history.

Vogue L'Uomo April 2008 - MARC NEWSON  REM KOOLHAAS2

Rem Koolhaas: a man known to buy an armful of magazines each time he gets on a plane, which is often.







One Response

  1. Interesting posts and nice images .

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