S,M,L,XL by Rem Koolhaas

The book S,M,L,XL by Rem Koolhaas is all about sizes or the “bigness” of things, and the demands on it. The title for his book is explanatory in itself; small, medium, large and extra large. It has over 1300 pages of his documented works and a multitude of frameworks that presents his original ideas. He also included an “alphabet” or a series of comments and ideas that can be considered helpful in comprehending his work. He also inserted a chronology offered at the end of his book which lists his projects and when they were done. His projects are also separated from his texts or transcripts.

He considered every project as an individual case separated from the other same as with the texts. He developed a specific approach towards architecture and urbanism. He declared the complexities, lack of control, oppositions, and bigness as the starting point of their projects. In addition to these, he also stated that urban context can no longer be controlled in the ‘classical’ manner of Modernism. It was argued in one of his essays that the “old” architecture principles of composition, scale, detail and proportion can no longer apply if a building requires bigness.

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The scaling of small, medium, large and extra large is sort of odd though as I can not imagine a building referred to in that sense, though it does make a clear division when it comes to the matters of architecture, urbanism, size, complexity, and the way of treatment. He said that sheer size produces its own logic. Though his concept were a bit hard to aunderstand because he wasn’t that explanatory about architecture and its background, the work was still very good. It has changed the concept of monograph, as well as the perception of the role of graphic design, and also giving a graphic designer co-authorship.

The first book before the S,M,L,XL was the real doorstop a lot say, but this one helped reinvigorate the idea of collaboration. S,M,L,XL has become a verb as with all influential acts,. I would like to think that it could name the act of absolute reinvention that overturns our assumptions about architecture, design, and the capabilities of established—even “old”—technologies. Eleven years ago that meant a book about architecture. In eleven more years who knows what that will.

Koolhaas seems to view architecture as an activity focused mainly as adding to the world, stuck on conceiving of itself only in terms of adding new things rather than in terms of taking away or erasing things. He described beauty in two ways; first, as a principle that deals with geometry, balance and composition that will produce good buildings and secondly, as a property emerging from a good solution coming from S,M,X,XL that demonstrates positions. He also talks about urbanism not as responsible or legitimate but simply because it offers new possibilities of creating something new and innovative structures.

He tackled architecture and those who are the enslaved by it, and also the installation of Milan Triennale, the theory that made Mies and how it will be to live in vast emptiness and the boundless beauty of the 20th century. He also talked about the architecture of Berlin wall and how it works, He talked about a lot of things and offered a lot of theories. He introduced a new way of viewing cities and urbanization itself. He also offered a new way of referring to sizes that we all know and use today, not only in viewing architecture but also in choosing our clothes and definitely, when buying our burgers.

Koolhaas has suggested that to avoid “the Flagship syndrome: a megalomaniac accumulation of the obvious,” Prada should create a series of “epicenters,” or super-sized stores, each a distinct work of design. Koolhaas is definitely full of ideas that go way beyond the conventions of traditional architecture. A lot has even called his theories and designs as futuristic, but though he is well known for those theories like the S,M,L,XL method of sizing things up or maybe, the Bordeaux House or even the Seattle Public Library, he is still is not perfect.

It might be because of the very controversial way of being popular nowadays, but his works and theories have holes in them. But still, the ideas are good, reading to a very liberated and urban world. But in the forever innovative world, and for all the inspiring theories that he introduces are also questions that plagues a traditional mind. Will everything depend on huge structures these days? Disturbing.