OMA’s Reinier de Graaf talks Megalopoli(tic)s

  • 02 Aug 2012
  • by
  • Urban Planning

partner explores the relationship between the megalopolis and politics at the Berlage Institute, where he conducted a one-week masters class devoted to the concept of Megalopoli(tic)s – “a very large ambitious political structure dealing especially with the act of governing complex metropolitan areas”.

De Graaf begins by stating we must “think globally”. In 1950, New York and London were the only cities with more than 8 million inhabitants. Currently, there are 26 cities of over 8 million people and by 2020 there will be 37. In terms of population and GDP, countries have been surpassed by cities and cities have been surpassed by corporations. De Graaf states that the city is the physical manifestation of globalization, and as cities continue to rapidly grow, it is imperative that we question the logistics that go into governing them.

Imagine Doxiadis’ global Ecumenopolis city (1967) that depicts the city as no longer a product of nations but rather a international product, which he envisioned as a conglomerate of urbanized regions straddling the world.

“Megacity Regions” – Screen Shot
Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "OMA’s Reinier de Graaf talks Megalopoli(tic)s" 02 Aug 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <>
  • sdw

    Playing with words…like politician.
    Glossy charts, statistics to re-packaging already common phenomenon in order to capitalize and riding on it.

    “All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain”…
    -Blade runner-

    • common_cents

      That may be so, but they still raise interesting points for discussion

  • common_cents

    Good lecture…This is the main reason i admire OMA/AMO.They critically look at issues from all scales.While alot (if not most) architects look at cities as the limits of their thinking, OMA looks further at the economic, social, political forces that shape the world we live.. the world architects work in.As with every thesis,it was underpinned with rigorous research and analysis.Although some of the facts were favorably presented in a way to highlight what he was talking about, it indeed generates an interesting discussion.

  • Matt

    What Reinier de Graaf discusses…boils down to this:

    We have entered an age of neo-feudalism, where corporations have merged (captured) the state. It is what political philosopher Sheldon Wolin describes as a system of “Inverted Totalitarianism.” This form of government exists solely to protect wealth for the those at the top (mega-corporations) and legislation is written to secure monopolies and criminalize competition. Differing from traditional fascism, this form of totalitarianism is a headless state where corporations control and corrupt the levers of political power, and the political class serves only to act as a shield for the corporate elite.

    Corporations will soon have more rights and authority than our elected governments, and little Ikealands will pop up left and right, and the definition of democracy will slowly be morphed to represent the goals of capitalist oligarchs rather than its traditional definition. The majority of us (Americans, at least) will only have a voice on the most benign of political issues (gay marriage, abortion, etc.) while the corporate class will control when and where the next wars will be fought for the purpose of colonizing cheap labor and resources, which civil liberties the citizenry of the homeland will be able to retain (if any), and which coffers of the public realm are left to be raided (social security, medicare, etc.)

    As for the physical manifestation of this new political paradigm? Feudal lords will live in their castles (Corporate skyscrapers) while the remaining serfs are left to occupy the slums that sprawl endlessly beyond the city with little to no access to the concentrated wealth and power of the corporate profits. Our sole existence will be to pay fees for stupid fines and citations in between our lunch break.

    For anyone interested in learning more about the political philosophy of this matter, I HIGHLY recommend going to youtube and searching for the lectures and interviews with Sheldon Wolin, Chris Hedges, Glenn Greenwald, Noam Chomsky, and other great thinkers.