I am proud to have contributed an essay for Vertical Urbanism: Designing Compact Cities in China published by the Routledge in 2018. [pdf]
This book consists of studies of compact cities that have evolved along with the rising awareness of climate change and sustainable development. Relevant debates, however, reveal that the prevailing definitions and practices of compact cities are tied primarily to traditional Western urban forms.
This chapter examines the “new form of unknowable urbanism” propagated by Rem Koolhaas in reference to his theoretical assertion and architectural adaptations. From the so-called Manhattan-ism to his manifesto of Bigness, Koolhaas developed his urbanist proposition with an emphasis on the relationship of architecture to the city. The chapter first explores the formation of Koolhaas’s urbanist ideas and its affinity to Russian Constructivism. It then examines how Koolhaas translated these ideas into his architectural language and applied it in his skyscraper projects, including the China Central Television (CCTV) Headquarters and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange Headquarters. Both embody principles of Koolhaas’s New Urbanism that addresses the conditions of present-day Chinese cities and the unique form of urbanization. The chapter argues that Koolhaas’s urbanist idea, although provocative, feel short as a formula to effectively connect the urban and the architectural scales due to both his commitment to mainstream tradition of rationalist-functionalist modernism and the sociopolitical situation of contemporary China.