Just finished looking at the Lagos films with Rem Koolhaas 'Lagos Wide and Close' and 'Lagos/Koolhaas' as well as read a piece of the 'Lagos Handbook' that GSD students produced with Koolhaas (Loeb Library special collections). Two things called my attention; Koolhaas' evolving view of planning and infrastructure and the discussion of Makoko as a prototype for the growth of Lagos and other cities.
Discussing Lagos Koolhaas said that he had come with a great apathy towards planning. He then began noticing self-organizations all throughout the city and found them interesting. But the breakthrough came when he noticed that these self-organizations from the informal Alaba Market to the sea of informal traders around the trains and highways are completely dependent on the formal infrastructure of the modernist infrastructure of the 60's and 70's. The informal and formal are not unfriendly binaries but rather careful dance partners with the architect's new role coordinating and synchronizing that dance. Thus Koolhaas' belief in planning was renewed.
Koolhaas also mentions the informal community of Makoko in Lagos as a possible prototype for growth there and in other cities. He is interested by the way the community has grown around the bay to saw, store, and ship lumber. In Makoko we can see an intersection of ecological conditions, commerce, infrastructure, and community. This slum and Koolhaas' reading remind me of the diagram (above) I produced for the NICAestudio. This diagram was meant to say that the new housing in informal settings needed to be embedded with commercial and social activities and then critically set within the landscape. Furthermore, this reading also signifies an evolution of Koolhaas' urban/ecological views from La Villete...
One last thing I found interesting is that Koolhaas said that he was concerned about being careful as a 'white European'. He wanted to neither romanticize conditions nor scandalize them with stereotypical images of despair. I think this critical anxiety is important to recognize as it is something that designers (of all races and nationalities) need to come to terms with in order to work within this context.
(YouTube Video of Introduction to Lagos/Koolhaas)
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