Oswald Mathias Ungers and Rem Koolhaas

Recalibrating Architecture in the 1970s

Lara Schrijver examines the work of Oswald Mathias Ungers and Rem Koolhaas as intellectual legacy of the 1970s for architecture today. Particularly in the United States, this period focused on the autonomy of architecture as a correction to the social orientation of the 1960s. Yet, these two architects pioneered a more situated autonomy, initiating an intellectual discourse on architecture that was inherently design-based. Their work provides room for interpreting social conditions and disciplinary formal developments, thus constructing a `plausible' relationship between the two that allows the life within to flourish and adapt. In doing so, they provide a foundation for recalibrating architecture today.

€45.00 * $55.00 *

7 October 2021, 206 pages
ISBN: 978-3-8376-5759-3

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Lara Schrijver

Lara Schrijver, Universiteit Antwerpen, Belgien

1. Why did you choose this topic?

I have always been interested in what architecture says about the undercurrents of society. The book looks at the work of two architects who worked together in the 1970s: Oswald Mathias Ungers and Rem Koolhaas. Originally, I felt their urban thinking most relevant, but as my research progressed, I found that they shared a fundamental belief in the cultural value of architecture. Their work reflects these ideas on architecture's relevance and how this materializes in writings, drawings and projects.

2. What new perspectives does your book offer?

It reveals a fundamental undercurrent to architecture as a negotiation between disciplinary autonomy and service to society. In their built work and their writings, both Ungers and Koolhaas grapple with these questions, addressing key features of what architecture contributes, albeit in different ways. For those who know their work well, I hope it sheds new light on the shared premises in their work and its relevance for today.

3. What makes your topic relevant for current research debates?

Architecture as a field has a hybrid nature: it is an art that needs a scientific and engineering perspective, it is societally embedded, and it is invisible yet present in daily life. As such, it has many often hidden effects: buildings may continue to shape spatial habits long after the context in which they were realized. An in-depth look at exemplary oeuvres such as these, reveals timeless qualities in architecture thinking.

4. Choose one person you would like to discuss your book with!

Siegfried Kracauer.

5. Your book summary in one sentence:

The book reflects on contextual and timeless qualities of architecture – a ›plausible‹ relation between the social and the formal – through the work of Ungers and Koolhaas.

Lara Schrijver
Book title
Oswald Mathias Ungers and Rem Koolhaas Recalibrating Architecture in the 1970s
transcript Verlag
kart., Dispersionsbindung, 27 SW-Abbildungen, 13 Farbabbildungen
Commodity Group
Release date
7 October 2021
Architecture Theory, Architecture, Urban Studies
Architecture Theory, Urbanism, Culture, 1970s, Architecture

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