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Mutations [Paperback]

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Item description for Mutations by Rem Koolhaas, Stefano Boeri, Sanford Kwinter & Nadia Tazi...

The continuously accelerating phenomenon of urbanization continues to be one of the great challenges of our time, surfacing repeatedly as an issue in different areas of the world for two hundred years. In a world that has been redefined by a proliferation of communication networks and by a progressive erasure of borders, Mutations reflects on the transformations that these accelerating processes inflict on our environment, and on the spaces in which architecture can still operate. Organized as a heavily illustrated atlas/survey of contemporary urban landscapes, the first section of this exhaustive and essential book begins with revealing data on global urbanization, juxtaposed with a series of essays on the changing environment and economy of today's metropolis. The rest of the book is devoted to a selection of groundbreaking studies by some of the central figures in contemporary architectural urbanism, including the Pearl River Delta in Southeast Asia, a project of the Harvard Project on the City, directed by Rem Koolhaas; ''Uncertain States of Europe,'' a project by Stefano Boeri and Multiplicity; a survey of American cities by Sanford Kwinter and Daniela Fabricius; and a study of Lagos, Nigeria--one of Africa's largest cities--by the Harvard Project.

Outline's Best of 2001
"A city is a plane of tarmac with some red hot spots of intensity," Rem Koolhaas, the pathbreaking architect and author of such semiotically seminal books as Delirious New York and the more recent S, M, L, XL, remarked in 1969. More than 30 years later, there are more of those hot spots around the world than ever, and they're getting hotter every day. Globalization, standardization, and the high-speed innovations of our current information age are transforming urban centers from London to Los Angeles to Lagos, and more places are becoming more urban, and at a faster pace, than ever before.

Mutations is an eye-popping atlas-cum-analysis of this new urbanization, and much of it is composed of essays and meditations (from a variety of contributors) on the 21st-century international City (often un-)Beautiful. Most of them are written in language that will be familiar to readers of Koolhaas's past books: in other words, dense, abstract, and chock-full of references to Foucault, Deleuze, and Guattari. If you like that sort of deconstructivist yammering, great; if not, the major small-type essays are best sampled (or, better, skimmed) one at a time, interspersed with the many other more accessible elements of the book that truly do add up to a vivid and fascinating mosaic of postmodern urbanism.

From Koolhaas and Harvard Design School's Project on the City come two engrossing and wholly straightforward explorations: one of the Pearl River Delta, which China has designated as a zone of unrestricted capitalist experimentation, and whose five major urban centers have consequently exploded overnight in all sorts of instructive and often frightening ways; and another of the chaotic, congested and Blade Runneresque megalopolis of Lagos, Nigeria, whose patterns of growth, housing, and commerce defy all conventional wisdom on how cities should develop. There's also a bounty of excellent (and often astonishing) statistics on all aspects of urban growth; a "snapshots" section of phenomena from cities all over the globe; a completely spot-on (and unintentionally funny) analysis of the evolution of shopping as the last truly unifying urban public activity (and the subject of Koolhaas's next full-scale book); and a trenchant look at Kosovo as ground zero in the first major war of the Internet age. (It should be noted that there's a separate section on the U.S., which with all its soulless, tacky consumerist excess gets the drubbing it usually can expect from the European intelligentsia, although the irony here is that more and more of newly urban Europe is starting to look like newly urban America.)

The exhibit-quality photography throughout is great, and, as you could expect from this unofficial successor to S, M, L, XL, the design is satisfyingly outr, right down to its post-Warholian plastic yellow easy-wipe cover with glued-on mousepad. But for all of Mutations's rich trove of facts and insights, and the impression that its high-tech design gives of an ironic embrace of the new urbanization, its deeper tone is one of disappointment and loss. The spirit of Jane Jacobs resides here, with all its yearning for the quirky, quaint beauty of human-scaled townhouses and shops, sidewalks and byways, and for the precorporatized glamour of grand old towns like New York, London, Paris, and Shanghai, before such metallic nouveau hubs as Atlanta and Kuala Lumpur were ever on the world-commerce map. Mutations was written and compiled largely by architects, after all, who hate ugliness as much as the next guy, whatever they may claim otherwise; its precisely for that reason that this densely absorbing new compendium betrays its wistfulness as often as it promotes its own air of cool, ethnographic bemusement. --Timothy Murphy

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Item Specifications...

Pages   720
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 2.25" Width: 6.25" Height: 8"
Weight:   3.2 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 15, 2001
Publisher   Actar
ISBN  8495273519  
ISBN13  9788495273512  

Availability  0 units.

More About Rem Koolhaas, Stefano Boeri, Sanford Kwinter & Nadia Tazi

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! "Rem Koolhaas was born in Rotterdam in 1944. In 1975 he founded the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), which has become one of todayis most renowned and radical architecture firms."

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Product Categories

1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Architecture
2Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Architecture > Building Types & Styles > General
3Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Architecture > Criticism
4Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Architecture > General
5Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Architecture > Reference
6Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Architecture > Urban & Land Use Planning

Reviews - What do customers think about Mutations?

Empty of Ideas and Full of Itself  Feb 25, 2004
This ridiculous book is nothing more and nothing less than a sad example of the disdain these authors feel for the world at large and for their poor readers in particular. Riddled with typos, filled with pictures of the poorest quality and utterly devoid of any original ideas, the book falls back, again and again, on worn, political cliches and pompous, unnecessarily complex phrasings that serve only one purpose: to conceal the fact that there is absolutely nothing of worth or merit being said here (beyond the incredibly, utterly astounding insight that cities, third world cities especially, are growing pretty darn fast!) At certain points it seems that even the writers can't follow their own ramblings. One particularly confused contributor (McKenzie Wark) writes " . . . technologies enclose, they count and rank what they enclose." Then, four sentences later, he/she writes: "Technologies do not enframe. There's no enclosure . . ." And that is about as coherent as that writer gets. One can only conclude that these people never expected anyone to actually read their book, since they obviously didn't take the time to read it themselves. Thank you Rem Koolhaas and your band of incompetent contributors for wasting my time and money on this utter disgrace of a book.
nice book, far nicer object  Jan 30, 2004
this book is packed with info. some of it is relatively hard to get at (your eyes are likely to glaze over at the reams of essays formatted in a narrow, sans-serif OCR-esque font) but the content and data is pretty good. it looks very nice in your bookshelf, but when hitting it up for a re-read, you may find yourself cursing the designers' decisions to go with form over function, IMHO.
Outstanding  May 3, 2003
This book is to be considered a piece of historical evidence of the tendencies of thought of the new era. Whether you may find the concepts proposed not suitable, every prospective or practicing architect, designer or urban planner must be aware of the latest tendencies of thought in order to be the best-educated he/she can be.

The Pearl River Delta investigation is impecable. For the "reasonably intelligent person" that wrote a comment above, it is a shame that you overlooked the whole analysis on shopping, perhaps because you are so immersed in it in the USA that you cannot see the forest for the trees.

I agree that the language is dense and often martian-like. This is the case of the introductory essay "Telegram from nowhere". But read between the lines. Reading is re-reading said Joyce. You will find a very smart concept regarding the architecture built for the media.

This book is all about cities in different parts in the world. It helps a lot if you are a culturally aware person. If you have had contact with diverse forms of living and thinking, may I highly suggest you get hold of this book. If you are not, you may either feel that the text is just wobbling on things you cannot be empathic with, or you may be on your way to becoming a more educated human being. And do not think by any means that this is a meek and mild pro-globalization text. This book is just rasing questions and proposing concepts, like all masterpiece limit themselves to do.

Difficult to Follow  Jan 9, 2003
This book was a required textbook for an urban planning class I took at college. I was very disappointed with the book overall. The photographs were very nice, but the text was utterly confusing, and difficult to follow. I consider myself to be a reasonably intelligent person, but I could not grasp most of what the authors were trying to say. The only parts of the book I enjoyed was the sections on the United States, which covered urban sprawl, gangs in cities, generic, look-alike architecture, etc. The rest of the book left much to be desired. The other students in my urban planning class agreed with my opinion of the book. Nobody seemed to get much use out of it except for the professor.
A different point of view  Aug 23, 2001
I bought this book because of the Pearl River Delta Study. For me who actually grew up in that part of the world I wanted to see how these "foreigners" look at my home town. It gave me new insights on how to look at cities... in a different way.. in different eyes. To me it is valuable at least in this sense.

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