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Rem Koolhaas and the artfully arbitrary


I read with interest Murray Fraser's piece on Rem Koolhaas (AJ 18.12.03), 'Shooting from the hip and moulding the modern'.

Indeed, Rem Koolhaas is well known for his coruscating criticism of the vanity of the profession and many of its practitioners. He could be called the architects' Diogenes.

'Look at my new television HQ in Beijing, ' he seems to say.

'The facade is just stuck on; it is applied and arbitrary.'

But arbitrariness is not easily designed, and man's capability of association too rich as it (cynically? ) creates its own rules again. To me Koolhaas' design resembles torn stockings, or maybe, just maybe, patterns of decoration used in rugs by a remote Berber tribe from the Atlas mountains in Morocco.

Their designs should be of interest to Koolhaas (as a designer) as their apparent 'arbitrariness' is a lot more fun than his. Pity that these associations don't fit Rem's brand image.

Bert Rozeman, London N19

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