“Forty years ago the public cause proved a powerful source of inspiration. Given the numbers of architects that chose to serve it, one might even speak of a common ground. In the age of the ‘starchitect’, the idea of suspending the pursuit of a private practice in favor of a shared ideology seems remote and untenable. In the context of the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale, this exhibition hopes to provide a small contribution towards finding that common ground once more…” – OMA Partner Reinier de Graaf, August 2012
Throughout Europe in the late 1960s and early 1970s, large public works departments employed architects to design a multitude of public buildings in an effort to serve the public cause. Reinier de Graaf describes this “heyday of public architecture” as “a short-lived, fragile period of naïve optimism – before the brutal rule of the market economy became the common denominator.”
OMA partner Reinier de Graaf 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.