Mimi Zeiger

Critic, editor, curator and instigator.

In September, Rem Koolhaas stood in front of a bunch of mayors and experts convened in Brussels for the High Level Group meeting on Smart Cities and called them dumb. Not dumb as in stupid, per se, but as these proponents champion a positivist approach they are mute on the real challenges of contemporary cities and deaf to the role of the architect as a shaper of the urban realm.

In the edited transcript of the talk posted online at the European Commission on 3 November, Koolhaas starts out swinging. “I had a sinking feeling as I was listening to the talks by these prominent figures in the field of smart cities because the city used to be the domain of the architect, and now, frankly, they have made it their domain,” he begins, setting up his tweetable one-two punch. “This transfer of authority has been achieved in a clever way by calling their city smart — and by calling it smart, our city is condemned to being stupid.” Read More …

his past December, just as retailers were making their holiday markdowns and non-profits issuing their year-end appeals, the Storefront for Art and Architecture was opening its last exhibition of 2011. Spurred by Occupy Wall Street, Strategies for Public Occupation featured “projects and strategies that offer a new, creative and productive way of spatial occupation for public demonstrations and actions in cities throughout the world.” In parallel Storefront hosted a week of workshops, performances and lectures in which artists and architects presented their own interpretations of the Occupy movement. Strategies for Public Occupation was, in short, intended to be a summation of interventionist practices and a wide-ranging discussion about the relationships among citizens, cultural producers and public space.

Unfortunately, Storefront got the title wrong.

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