In this lecture, organized in conjunction with the exhibition Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980, Rem Koolhaas discusses the production of socialist space and its impact on his own architectural practice. Koolhaas’s perspective is of particular interest because of his longstanding, if little known, interest in Yugoslav architecture. He first encountered Yugoslav architecture in Nigeria in the 1990s: over several trips to Lagos, he was impressed with the work of Energoprojekt, the Belgrade-based Yugoslav-state-operated construction and design firm. On the occasion of the exhibition at MoMA, which presents Energoprojekt’s Lagos Trade Fair complex as one of the key achievements of Yugoslav architecture, Koolhaas will reflect upon the firm’s enduring legacy, with particular attention paid to how their work changes the meaning of “turnkey architecture”—the process by which a single firm oversees every component of a building’s design and construction—which speaks to Koolhaas’s interest in the organization of labor in architectural offices. That he discovered Yugoslav architecture in Nigeria, where architects from Energoprojekt designed and built important cultural and government buildings in several cities, is a testament to the international networks of knowledge transfer and exchange provided by the Non-Aligned Movement abroad, a topic that will also be addressed in his talk.
Koolhaas’s interest in Toward a Concrete Utopia is ultimately one component of his research preoccupations and built work in socialist, post-socialist, and post-colonial contexts. As such, he will also speak to how the sophistication of architectural production under state socialism in the 1970s and 1980s informs contemporary production.
The lecture will be followed by a conversation with Martino Stierli, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, and guest curator Vladimir Kulić, organizers of the exhibition.
This event is now fully booked. There will be a standby line starting at 5:30 p.m. on the day of the event.