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13. Learning from Japan

Besides the release of Ready to Die by the Notorious B.I.G. in 1994 and SMLXL by Rem Koolhaas the following year, few events during my days as a student impacted my development more than partaking in a master class Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa taught at the Berlage Institute – then still located in Amsterdam – in the fall of 1998. Where the first two introduced me to thinking big, the latter completely changed my approach towards the field. In these years simplified mutations of Koolhaas’ utilization of the paranoiac-critical method within architecture – a cynical deployment of meddled objectivity – dominated the Dutch discourse.  A sarcastic joke or tongue-in cheek one liner sufficed as a base for ones design. Stimulated by stipends, a flourishing economy and euphoric critics this “Dutch Method” cumulated in a self congratulatory climate in which anything reasonable – design informed by random data, based on pseudo scientific analyses – was unquestionably good. SANAA’s master class was a gasp of fresh air in this contrived environment….

This is the introduction to a book published September 2009 through Lars Müller Publishers on the SANAA studios Florian co-taught at Princeton. Contributions by Stan Allen, Sanford Kwinter, Iwan Baan and Sou Fujimoto amongst others. Design by Geoff Han.

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