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Airport-City

“The city … begins more and more to resemble to an airport. Like international airports, the new cities are the same everywhere. … The new city has no identity: it is a city without a past, without individuality or particularity – a generic city. … The airport is the paradigm because we are all in transit … The Generic City is a settlement for people who migrate, hence its instability. …

In a generic city, everyone is a tourist or a shopper. ‘The only activity is shopping.’ … The generic city is dominated by reverse gravity, by evaporation, by the centrifugal attraction of the void and the periphery, with centreless agglomerations as the final product. … The place where the new, evacuated urbanness becomes visible is, according to Koolhaas’s description, the atrium. …

For the Romans it was a hole in a house or other building that injected light and air, the outdoors, into the interior. Now it is ‘a container of artificiality that allows the occupants to avoid daylight forever – a hermetic interior, sealed against the real’. … [Koolhaas] is more conscious than anyone that the atrium produces a surrogate urbanness. … The analogy with an airport is striking: security is the key concept. The outside is once again dangerous. …

The nineteenth-century arcade into which Benjamin read the dream of a new public domain, one that would jettison the bourgeois distinction between the private and the public realms, has been transformed into the air-conditioned nightmare of hotel atria, of closed, artificial spaces and esplanades accessible only via car parks (as in La Défense or in L.A.) …

People seem to have given up on the street, on the world outside. …

In Koolhaas’s book, the absence of violence is striking. …  Perhaps Virilio can help us here. He was the first to point out the transformation of the city into an airport. But in his view violence is, on the contrary, ubiquitious. … The worst of all catastrophes may well be evaporation. … The atrium, the mall, the artificial plaza, the Internet and the television screen as virtual survival space.

The city, the public space, is being abandoned. For Virilio, the politics of space (territory, defense, urbanism) is being replaced by a politics of time (transport, communication, speed, networks. … Space no longer really matters, this is why the city is becoming everywhere the same. …

According to the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben … more and more people are falling outside the ordinance of social life … and into the ordinance of mere existence … . This mere existence is beyond the law, and hence without rights. It is governed by the logic of the camp … a territory outside the law … where anything can happen. … Transit zones are … duty free … They are potential camps (like the camps for illegal immigrants). …

Once we consider the airport in its totality – not only its lobbies and lounges, catering services, cargo companies and tour operators, but also the transit camps associated with it – we see the true face of the generic city.”

aus: Lieven De Cauter: The Rise of the Generic City. Rem Koolhaas’s Flight Forward. In: ders.: The Capsular Civilisation. On the City in the Age of Fear. Rotterdam: NAi 2004, S. 11-23 (Erstveröffentlichung 1998).

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19/10/2016 (23:44) Schlagworte: EN,Lesebuch ::

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