Architecture, Rem Koolhaas

Floating pools

In an interview on the Dutch tv program ‘Nova College Tour’ (22th of April 2009) Rem Koolhaas gives the following definition of the ‘floating pools’ he describes in his book ‘Delirious New York’

“It is a floating pool, it consists of a square of water floating everywhere. In the story the Russian architects, who designed the pool in the 1920’s, discover that by swimming in one direction, the pool drifts in the opposite direction. They use this as a way to escape from Russia. The paradox becomes this: to leave the place they want to escape from, they have to swim in its direction. According to me this is the symbol of an architecture as pure activity that isn’t and cannot be defined by mass or material.”  

Here we have a manifesto of architecture as swimming, that is: moving through a resisting substance, but moving without mass or material. Koolhaas continues to praise the act of swimming:

“Swimming in public pools is, while you’ve got to be patient, the most effective way to emerge into a civilization, a culture. You understand everything immediately, you
 understand the relation between men and women, primness, old fashionedness; you understand everything.”

So this is the fluid act of architecture: swimming through transparancy is at the same time moving through the meaning of that transparancy by ways of effort, impediment, but with the possibilities of adding meaning to space and material.