Delirious New York
A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan




Rem Koolhaas\' Manifesto defines "phantom architecture." He creates a blueprint and describes components of this remarkable development. Phantom architecture is an infinite accumulation of layers consisting of theories, projects, and past and present experiences of a space. They are ideals and syntheses of new worlds and lives, hovering among and enwrapping “architectural mutations, utopian fragments, irrational phenomena”, breathing life into dead constructions. This is the infrastructure of Koolhaas’s Manifesto.


Protohumans stepped onto grassy knolls and rocky shores that now is Manhattan in a time of creation. This was a beginning of “a theater of progress.” The nakedness of their impressions started to shape the architecture of what was to come. In a short time, a landslide of evolution engulfed native people and took over the bantam island. It was colonized and divided into the Manhattan Grid by European settlers who took upon a project of divsion, excluding democracy from the design. There are 2028 blocks, evenly spaced, which eventually forced organization of the social anatomy of Manhattan to become more complicated than a separated hierarchy. The architecture became the religion of a community. Initiation of form on a block became its identity. This is the product of compression and density.


At each moiety of Manhattan there is almost an infinite amount of past, present, and future intimacies that forms the basis of its being. Any physical structure built of the site adds to this but does not directly take over the prescribed existence which has been outlined by it’s phantom architecture. This is what I took away after reading the “Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan” of Rem Koolhaas.