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Above the skyscraper 

The Generic Sublime
The Generic Sublime thinks broadly and ambitiously about a new type of urban architecture. 


In 1978, Rem Koolhaas presented in the book Delirious New York what he called a Manhattan manifesto based on the city. Initially he was there only to visit, but the fascination with Manhattan led him to study the impact of metropolitan culture on architecture. He writes, among other things, about the Rockefeller Center, where the skyscrapers extend over many quarters. One of Koolhaas' claims is that Manhattan, with its abundance and build-up of buildings, has today become synonymous with urbanity.

Above the skyscraper. Ciro Najle continues the theories of Koolhaas with the ambitious and comprehensive project The Generic Sublime, which had the working title “Overtheskyscraper". The Generic Sublime, which proposes a new way of thinking about urbanity and urban architecture, was initiated and led by Najle while a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Design and lasted from 2010 to 2013. The students who participated worked in, among others, landscape architecture and urban design. Some were based on Koolhaas' theories, others in utopias, others in so-called overurbanism – the American skyscraper and its micro-communities. In 2016 came a comprehensive book about the project, which has been referred to as a new way of thinking about architecture and urbanity.

The Generic Sublime. The title The Generic Sublime reflects on the generic architecture, an architecture that originated in European modernism in the 1900 century and which emphasizes the essential, functional, efficiency – and cost. This type of architecture is what we would like to think of as urbanity today, represented by, for example, skyscrapers, high-rise buildings and buildings that span the entire quarter. These can include apartments, industrial buildings, offices, theme parks and financial centers. Some of the students worked on the potential of the generic buildings, but lifted them to a new level and set them up against the concept of the sublime.

Can you better integrate the skyscraper into the landscape?

The group based on utopias from modernism played with the idea of ​​realizing them in today's society. Previously known utopias are Plato's State and Thomas More's Utopia in the book from 1516. Plato's ideal society was very classy
noble and tyrannical, and the philosophers should be the rulers of the city. Mores, on the other hand, sees the dream community as classless. Modernism is also known for its avant-garde, often monumental, utopias, and it was these Najle asked students to work from. In the works Bus Interchange has one of the students looked at Le Corbusiers Plan Obus, Algiers (1932) that the famous architect insisted on for eleven years, but which was never realized. Bus Interchange consists of both houses, motorway and walkways in one building.

Another student is based on the painter and architect Constant Nieuwenhuys' future city New Babylon (1956 – 1974). In this city everything is collectively owned, and the work is automated so that the day can be used for play. In such a society, art becomes superfluous because one is rather creative in the practical everyday life, Nieuwenhuys found. In the project Neon Sector it's created a whole new city form based on Guy Debords derivativeconcept, which is about a planless city walk that follows the terrain, moods and impressions rather than the street grid. This breaks the planning of the town.

Innovations. By rethinking the vertical, upright shapes, the urban pattern will also change. Most cities today are characterized by a grid pattern due to high-rise buildings and skyscrapers, and this has become what we associate with urbanity. But are there other ways of thinking about urban topology? Can you better integrate the skyscraper into the landscape? And how will this possibly help shape today's metropolises? And not least, how will another type of architecture change the city's residents? The Generic Sublime has resulted in a number of sensational and aesthetic computer graphics that are worth bringing along.

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