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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2003
This book was a required textbook for an urban planning class I took at college. I was very disappointed with the book overall. The photographs were very nice, but the text was utterly confusing, and difficult to follow. I consider myself to be a reasonably intelligent person, but I could not grasp most of what the authors were trying to say. The only parts of the book I enjoyed was the sections on the United States, which covered urban sprawl, gangs in cities, generic, look-alike architecture, etc. The rest of the book left much to be desired. The other students in my urban planning class agreed with my opinion of the book. Nobody seemed to get much use out of it except for the professor.
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9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2003
This book is to be considered a piece of historical evidence of the tendencies of thought of the new era. Whether you may find the concepts proposed not suitable, every prospective or practicing architect, designer or urban planner must be aware of the latest tendencies of thought in order to be the best-educated he/she can be.
The Pearl River Delta investigation is impecable. For the "reasonably intelligent person" that wrote a comment above, it is a shame that you overlooked the whole analysis on shopping, perhaps because you are so immersed in it in the USA that you cannot see the forest for the trees.
I agree that the language is dense and often martian-like. This is the case of the introductory essay "Telegram from nowhere". But read between the lines. Reading is re-reading said Joyce. You will find a very smart concept regarding the architecture built for the media.
This book is all about cities in different parts in the world. It helps a lot if you are a culturally aware person. If you have had contact with diverse forms of living and thinking, may I highly suggest you get hold of this book. If you are not, you may either feel that the text is just wobbling on things you cannot be empathic with, or you may be on your way to becoming a more educated human being. And do not think by any means that this is a meek and mild pro-globalization text. This book is just rasing questions and proposing concepts, like all masterpiece limit themselves to do.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2001
The book creates an exciting panorama of our urban spaces. It is similar to the first book published by Zone Books, which also uses photos and essays. I think the book is best viewed as "book art". It repesents the urban experience as overwhelming in a somewhat distanced way. Keeping in mind that it focuses with an almost bleak view of cities and consumer culture(we don't see a lot of pictures of parks, clean streets, or "nice" things about cities), I still recommend it.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2004
this book is packed with info. some of it is relatively hard to get at (your eyes are likely to glaze over at the reams of essays formatted in a narrow, sans-serif OCR-esque font) but the content and data is pretty good. it looks very nice in your bookshelf, but when hitting it up for a re-read, you may find yourself cursing the designers' decisions to go with form over function, IMHO.
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15 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2004
This ridiculous book is nothing more and nothing less than a sad example of the disdain these authors feel for the world at large and for their poor readers in particular. Riddled with typos, filled with pictures of the poorest quality and utterly devoid of any original ideas, the book falls back, again and again, on worn, political cliches and pompous, unnecessarily complex phrasings that serve only one purpose: to conceal the fact that there is absolutely nothing of worth or merit being said here (beyond the incredibly, utterly astounding insight that cities, third world cities especially, are growing pretty darn fast!) At certain points it seems that even the writers can't follow their own ramblings. One particularly confused contributor (McKenzie Wark) writes " . . . technologies enclose, they count and rank what they enclose." Then, four sentences later, he/she writes: "Technologies do not enframe. There's no enclosure . . ." And that is about as coherent as that writer gets. One can only conclude that these people never expected anyone to actually read their book, since they obviously didn't take the time to read it themselves. Thank you Rem Koolhaas and your band of incompetent contributors for wasting my time and money on this utter disgrace of a book.
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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2001
Pretty book well designed, essays are interesting and really do seem to have more to do with urban planning than architecture. But it's a fairly good compilation; the roman city section is reason enough to buy the book.
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5 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2001
At first it might look as "just another crazy object" from Koolhaas... but when getting into it you discover it says all those things that you emerging architect, or architecture student have been thinking about lately. From Globalization to the soul of the cities. Excellent. It puts into place the concepts of Globalization and Shopping together with the position of architects and architecture related to them. A while after reading it you realize it's not far away from "Towards a New Architecture" by Le Corbusier... it's another era book, but the fluxes travel among the same envelopes, using Rem's concepts.
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17 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2001
Here we have the explainations of our time and space we've all been longing for. It's a massive collaboration attacking the all encompassing subject of "the urban". Amazing, confusing, upsetting and humorous. Distilled to awkward questions:
1. It's a joke - right?
2. Do people or architects take up more space?
3. Is there any difference between Houston and Lagos?
4. Urban life is on its own, should you be afraid?
5. Go ahead, move to the suburbs?
6. Urban cores are strictly for entertainment purposes eventually all attempting to be Las Vegas?
7. Plans are for fools - anarchy rules?
There is SO MUCH here it's staggering. The photography alone is worth it.
The meta-model of the internet, overlaying, organizing and perhaps obliterating classical urban space is presented as an obvious human accomplishment.
The piece on the Pearl River Delta in China hints at how existing cities elsewhere might decide to compete with neighboors.
The final section is an alphabetical, by author, collection of short pieces addressing urban rumors. Ranging from the absurd to the academic, this may be the real message of the book. If any of us can figure it out.
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5 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2001
I bought this book because of the Pearl River Delta Study. For me who actually grew up in that part of the world I wanted to see how these "foreigners" look at my home town. It gave me new insights on how to look at cities... in a different way.. in different eyes. To me it is valuable at least in this sense.
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