24-10-11 // ANY PRESS IS GOOD PRESS
Dutch architectural avant-garde of the nineties in Bart Lootsma’s publication “SuperDutch”
Any Press is Good Press
By Bernd Upmeyer
Dedicating an entire issue of a magazine to criticism of a single person – in this case the architect Bjarke Ingels – can be a tricky thing and ultimately spoil its original intention: any press is good press. Even if all articles in this issue turn out to put Bjarke in a bad light, he will probably still shine brighter ever after, due to the attention and press coverage that will be generated by the magazine. The entire thing might almost look like one of Bjarke’s publicity stunts, well-planned and designed to attract the public’s attention, never waiting around for the news to present opportunities, but constantly trying to create his own news. To avoid giving him even more attention than he already attracts through his obvious extraordinary talents in self-promotion and self-marketing, most of the rather serious and critical architecture magazines have not paid him too much attention yet. However, the fairly uncritical and image-oriented magazines publish him excessively as they wish to ride on his coattails and profit from his popularity while using him as a cash cow to sell copies.
I believe it is a mistake for the somewhat serious and critical architecture magazines to not feature him. They actually should, but not because of his architecture – which is mostly about shamelessly reproducing, remixing, banalizing, and commercializing the Dutch architectural avant-garde of the nineties, which in itself is another crucial reason why the abovementioned magazines don’t publish his work – but because of his publicizing skills. Heroically, he does not ever seem to tire of repeating the same phrases and showing the same images, displaying the same scale models and diagrams, again and again, all over the world. That kind of energy and enthusiasm can only be admired. He is so good at managing the public’s perception of his office that today most of the architecture students even think that famous and established Dutch offices such as OMA or MVRDV are actually copying him. That achievement, together with his apparent ability to talk and connect to developers and investors and his incredible success in winning commissions, caught our interest at MONU as well and motivated us to interview him for one of our most recent issues that dealt with the impact of the real estate industry on the shape of cities.