Subtending Koolhaas’s decision to build in Beijing was a feeling of disgust with mass culture and free-market capitalism that came to a head in the early aughts. In 2002, the same year he won the commission for the CCTV complex, he published an essay called “Junkspace.” It takes the form of an obsessive list of definitions, in the vein of Susan Sontag’s “Notes on ‘Camp.’” Junkspace, narrowly defined, is the opposite of what Koolhaas means by architecture. Lacking substance and form, “it is subsystems only, without superstructure, orphaned particles in search of framework or pattern.” But junkspace is not a technical term. It fuses with Koolhaas’s anxieties about suburbanization, Americanization, malls, air conditioning, casual Fridays, and vast cultural leveling to become something more symbolically vivid. Junkspace is “kindergarten grotesque,” “mini-Starbucks on interior plazas”; it “is like being condemned to a perpetual Jacuzzi with millions of your best friends.” What emerges is a conflicted blend of angst, glibness, Western Marxism, and arch patrician contempt.
more from Colin Jones at Dissent here.