Is the future in the countryside?

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By Rem Koolhaas

The modern world is preoccupied with cities. More than half of mankind is now urban, which has been the pretext for an almost exclusive focus on the city. They are seen as the engines of economy, of emancipation, of the ultimate “lifestyle”. Since “Delirious New York” (1978), I have probably been associated as much as anyone with this concentration on the city, on the metropolis, on urbanism.

But in 2018 I will be researching everything that is not the city to prepare an exhibition in a major (spiral-shaped) venue in Manhattan. Today there is an almost complete lack of exploration of the countryside. Yet if you look carefully, the countryside is changing much more rapidly and radically than the “city”, which in many ways remains an ancient form of coexistence.

I first realised this in a Swiss village in the Engadin, which I visited often over the past 25 years. I began to notice drastic changes there. The village was simultaneously growing and hollowing out. A man I assumed was a farmer turned out to be a dissatisfied nuclear scientist from Frankfurt. Cows disappeared, along with their smell, and in came minimalist renovations, abundant cushions absorbing their new owners’ urban angst. Farming itself was now left to Sri Lankan workers. And nannies, nurses and assistants recruited in Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines were now looking after the homes, kids and pets of the virtual, one-week-a-year population who had caused the village to expand.


FiveWordsForTheFuture - Dec 3, 2017 | Architecture, Domotics, Food, Green Economy, Health, Society, Visions
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