Rem Koolhaas: Delirious New York – A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan

Rem Koolhaas’s ‘Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan’ posits New York as the arena for the terminal stage of Western civilisation. Through the simultaneous explosion of human density and invasion of new technologies, Manhattan became, from 1850 on, a mythical laboratory for the invention and testing of a revolutionary lifestyle: the Culture of Congestion.

Delirious New York is a polemical investigation of Manhattan: it documents the symbiotic relationship between its mutant metropolitan culture and the unique architecture to which it gave rise – though this book argues that it often appears that the architecture generated the culture. This book exposes the consistency and coherence of the seemingly unrelated episodes of Manhattan’s urbanism: it is an interpretation that establishes New York as the product of an unformulated movement, Manhattanism, whose true program was so outrageous that in order for it to be realized it could never be openly declared. Delirious New York is the retroactive manifesto of Manhattan’s architectural enterprise: it untangles theories, tactics and dissimulations to establish the desires of Manhattan’s collective unconscious as realities in the Grid.

Full text available to purchase

Originally published in 1978
Oxford University Press | Oxford

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