published in:

ARCH+ 217, Get Real! Die Wirklichkeit der Architektur / Architectural Realities, S. 140-155, Deutsch und English


When Reality Overtakes Utopia

The competition to design an extension to the Berlin headquarters of the Axel Springer SE media group— an extension that will be known as the Axel Springer Campus—is a significant example of a reality that has increasingly come to dominate urban planning and spatial production: the economic instrumentalization of every possible realm of life. In this context, architecture has been diminished to serving a mere external, symbolic function, fulfilling a role in a PR strategy desperate to reproduce the “Bilbao Effect.”

The interiors of buildings, meanwhile, are largely determined by building developers who develop the organization according to economic indicators generated by Excel spreadsheets. In this light, OMA’s winning project for the Axel Springer Campus (announced in March 2014) and the work of Rem Koolhaas in general reveal the possibilities, as well as the limitations, of using architecture to either affirm or to undermine this tendency toward the economic instrumentalization of all aspects of society—that is, architecture’s ability to impact established orders and to manufacture new connections and relationships that had never existed before. ...