In the latest video on architecture and urbanism from 32BNY, Steven Holl and his associate Dimitra Tsachrelia sit down with Elia Zenghelis, a founding partner at OMA and former lecturer at the Architectural Association in London. After forty-five years in architecture, Zenghelis has come to a series of conclusions, including a long-standing belief that men obstruct the design potential of their female colleagues, creating an imbalance in the professional landscape. "Women are much better architects than men," proclaims Zenghelis, former professor to Steven Holl, Rem Koolhaas and Zaha Hadid (as well as a former collaborator of the latter two). Sitting in Holl's New York office, Zenghelis argues that women have a certain intuition that proves essential to the creation of great design. "It's men that dominate the scene - something has to happen," he says.
Read on for more on the contents of the video.
Drawing on his experience of urbanism obtained through many of OMA's seminal projects, including a proposal to build a monolithic structure slicing diagonally through Central London, Zenghelis argues that the best architecture is measured by the way it enhances or contributes to the city, saying "architecture is one of the pixels in the tissue of the city." In tangent to Zenghelis' argument, Holl suggests that the academic architectural education has strayed from an urbanism-centric approach, focusing entirely on the production of individual buildings with little regard to the composition of the city.
Ultimately, Zenghelis feels that the architect will always be his own client. "You have certain images in your head, whether you're given a commission or whether it's relevant or not, you want to see them done," he says. Holl and Zenghelis share a history of autonomously created projects for the improvement of the urban condition. Now 78, Zenghelis has returned to autonomous architecture and that's how he likes it: "I am now my own client, and I refuse to have an office."