Article Number: 4747
Soft Cover, German, Staple Binding, 30 Pages, 2011, Textem Verlag
marco biraghi

identification parade: manfredo tafuri and rem koolhaas

Auf der Suche nach einer Theorie der Architektur

Auf der Suche nach einer Theorie der Architektur Band 18 – Marco Biraghi Identification Parade: Manfredo Tafuri and Rem Koolhaas Ein Vortrag an der HafenCity Universität Hamburg, Juni 2010 (englisch)

Why Manfredo Tafuri and Rem Koolhaas? What do Manfredo Tafuri, the Italian architectural historian who passed away in 1994, and Rem Koolhaas, the Dutch architect whose fame has achieved planetary scale, have to do with each other? Not much, at first glance. In one of his most famous books of the 1980s, La sfera e il labirinto, Tafuri mentions the name Koolhaas a couple of times, almost in passing, and not in what would appear to be particularly flattering terms (he talks about the “cynical game of Koolhaas”, and describes his drawings as “jokes”).1 (fig.1, 2)

On the other side, Koolhaas speaks of Tafuri in an interview with Hans van Dijk in 1978. He says: “I have a strong impression that Tafuri and his co-thinkers hate architecture. They declare architecture dead. For him architecture is a set of corpses in the morgue. But once dead they do not leave the corpses in peace: they are vain enough to want to be the experts of the morgue. They do name-dropping in the morgue”, and he continues: “In the articles of Tafuri about skyscrapers I have never seen a map. For him it is a kind of Totem of the bad side of capitalism and of course he is terrified to discover that there is something else going on.”2 In spite of the severity and precision of the judgments expressed here, which “nail down” Tafuri to a merciless and ideological position regarding capitalism, there is reason to believe that the latter played a central – even decisive – role in the focusing of the positions of Koolhaas. But in order to get a better idea of the relationship that can be traced between the two (clarifying, from the outset, that this is not a personal relationship, one of familiarity or encounters), we need to retrace, however briefly, the intellectual trajectory of Tafuri ...