Silver Brick

Luis Fernández-Galiano   /  Source:  El País

This enormous book is small when compared to the ambition of its author. Its nearly three kilograms will sprain the reader’s wrist, and its 1,400 pages of mental, graphic, and typographic torment will tax his patience, but forms and ideas which are shifting the course of architecture brew within this silver hardbound brick. In appearance, the volume collects the projects and writings of the Dutch Rem Koolhaas and his Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA); in reality, the book aspires to be both a chaotic portrait of the contemporary city and a both realistic and utopian architectural manifesto, accepting confusion and proposing to orchestrate it.

The formal characteristics of the work clearly express its contents. Given the hazardous nature of current architectural activity, Koolhaas’s projects are simply grouped into sizes, into the four chapters that the book’s actual title alludes to – Small, Medium, Large, Extra-Large; given the diversity of professional situations, the proposals are narrated with a graphic repertoire that ranges from the sketch to the photograph and includes model shots, press clippings, computer simulations, and comic strips; and given the complexity of the political, economic, and cultural contexts in which the buildings come into existence, the publication is sprinkled with a heteroclite mix of critical texts, anecdotes, travel notes, theoretical reflections, and rather unusual images (from Lenin’s embalmers to Japanese pornography), besides an interminable dictionary of quotes running parallel to the main body of the work...

Included Tags: