Architecture, Icon Design Talks, Italy, Milan design week, OMA, Rem Koolhaas, Scripture and the City, Urbanism

“Nobody can design cities anymore” says Rem Koolhaas

Architects have lost control of city design according to Rem Koolhaas.

The OMA founder, who was recently in Dubai for the opening of his Concrete arts centre, was speaking as part of Milan design week.

He said: “The architecture profession thought not so long ago that it knew how to design cities and that its obligation was to design cities and to teach how to design cities.

“At the same time, we are surrounded by cities that you would call unpleasant.

“Nobody can design cities anymore, or rather the cities that people know how to design are completely different from the cities that architecture considers legitimate and organised.

“So, whether we want to or not, we are basically confronted with a phenomenal amount of evidence of the redundancy and even the absurdity of our profession. It’s a really deeply tragic situation.”

This is true everywhere, he said, but especially so in Italy, where the situation is “really more traumatic than anywhere else”.

He told the audience: “Your entire country is tortured by this condition, because it is the one country that cannot make this step to another field, and no single Italian has written about anything which is not Italian in that sense.”

Called Scripture and the City, the conference formed part of the Icon Design Talks discussion series. It took place in Milan’s Braidense National Library, but was broadcast live to an audience.

Koolhaas was in conversation with historian Manuel Oraz and Stefano Boeri, the Italian architect behind the pioneering tree-covered Bosco Verticale towers in Milan.