Famed Architect on Megacities, Slums, and Confucius

Published on Author Asher
CCTV Headquarters in Beijing

Rem Koolhaas is an architect and urban theorist, the designer of such buildings as Beijing’s CCTV Tower and the author of S M L XL and Delirious New York. The Huffington Post interviewed him on the 12th, and his views are relevant to much of the previous discussion on this blog surrounding sustainable growth, urbanization, and externalities (and to Tom Miller’s China’s Urban Billion).

According to Koolhaas: China’s long-term goal is to form eco-friendly and liveable megacities–of 20-30 million people–out of the dispersed and sprawling smaller cities currently characteristic of the nation. “What we see in China’s plan is a series of ‘starter-kit’ metropoli, or the first phase of a series of emergent metropoli that can stabilize population movement for entire regions of the country.” Koolhaas attributes China’s avoidance of slums not to authoritarianism, but to centralized planning ability, and considers Hukou reform necessary to allow “fluid movement between cities and country, density and low density, north and south, east and west.” This, he says, will result in greater stability without violating the Confucian creed of balance.

Click here for the entire interview.

4 Responses to Famed Architect on Megacities, Slums, and Confucius

  1. If “China’s long-term goal is to form eco-friendly and liveable megacities for certain people,” doesn’t this lead to the problem of income inequality/gap? Only the selected ones are allowed to live in these cities whereas the others (esp. the poor) cannot?

    • I think the long-term goal is to remove mobility restrictions in the Hukou system entirely, such that the market would determine whether people lived in the city or the country. Especially in the coming decades, agriculture will involve fewer and fewer workers as it becomes increasingly automated. Eventually there will be no economic reason for people to live in the countryside, but there will be an imperative to keep people in very dense clusters so as to provide maximum arable land and the least destruction to the environment.

      • I agree with Asher. Eventually there will not be a need for farmers, and the majority, if not all people will be contained within cities. As technology improves, however, won’t there be many urban jobs that will also no longer need human input to be completed?

  2. China has some very interesting buildings, architects gone will in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and elsewhere. But a city is more than buildings, isn’t it?