An Ideological City: Koolhaas’ Exodus in the Second Ecumene


  • Matthew Teismann Independent Scholar / LIONarchitecture



In 1968 the Apollo 8 spacecraft became the first manned vehicle to orbit the moon. This mission is perhaps most famous however, for a photograph called Earthrise, taken by astronaut William Anders. Deemed by Life Books as ‘the most influential environmental photograph ever taken (Rowel, 2003, p. 172),’ it is purportedly the first photograph of our globe in-the-round. Earthrise had been preceded, however, by a 1966 black-and-white image taken by the Lunar Orbiter 1 robotic probe. Marking a seminal shift into an era signified by universal globalization, the world’s first view of Earth appropriately originated from beyond its surface. Six years later in 1972 when Rem Koolhaas created his theoretical project, 'Exodus, or the Voluntary Prisoners of Architecture,' he created an architecture against geo-economic forces of globalization. Critical to Exodus is an opposing spatial impenetrability designed to keep people in, while keeping goods, capital, and politics out. Both architecture and city, Exodus ideologically resists a newly emergent globalized world, manifest in an interconnected world-city that Greek architect Constantinos Doxiadis prefigured as 'Ecumenopolis.' Using Peter Sloterdijk's spatial analysis of globalization, I will place Exodus within this economic and historical context – a counter-cultural space at odds with global architecture and cities. As a discordant proposition, however, Koolhaas provides a place in which humans enter into an ontological space: Sloterdijk’s Sphären (Spheres).


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Author Biography

Matthew Teismann, Independent Scholar / LIONarchitecture

Matthew Teismann is an architect whose research focuses on history and philosophy of design. Teismann attended Kansas State University and Harvard University Graduate School of Design. In 2010 Teismann co-founded his architectural practice LIONarchitecture. Their work approaches architecture obliquely through practice-based research and epistemology. Teismann previously taught design studios and history and theory at University of Technology Sydney and Rhode Island School of Design. He has published on topics such as the space of globalism, geopolitical spatial encounters, and counterculture architecture. Matthew is the founding principal of LIONarchitecture in Columbus, Ohio.