LAGOS / KOOLHAAS
Script and direction: Bregtje van der Haak
Photography: Alexander Oey
Editor: J.P. Luysterburg
Producer: Sylvia Baan for Pieter van Huystee Film
co-producer: VPRO Television
With an estimated population of 14 million now, Lagos is one of the fastest growing cities on the African continent. By 2020, it is expected to be the third largest city in the world, with 24 million people. After decades of military rule, and in spite of enormous oil revenue, Nigeria suffers from mass poverty, dysfunctional public services and broken down infrastructures. Consequently, Lagos has a reputation for being one of the most dangerous cities in the world and many Africans prefer to avoid it. Architect Rem Koolhaas, however, chose not to. For the past four years, he, and a team of students of The Harvard Project on the City, have come to Lagos regularly to research the type of urbanity that is produced by uncontrolled, explosive population growth. Fascinated by the energy of Lagos, and driven by the desire to understand modernity in all ist aspects, Koolhaas set out to learn from Lagos, rather than planning, building or changing anything.
Notwithstanding its notoriety, Lagos continues to have enormous appeal for vast numbers of people. Every hour, 21 new inhabitants set out to start a life in the city, a life that is highly unpredictable and requires risk taking, networking and improvisation as essential strategies for survival. As talkshow host Funmi Iyanda puts it on her fabulously popular breakfast show The New Dawn: Lagos works for us. There is some kind of function in the dysfunction. And Rem Koolhaas saw that. It's like some elusive perfume in the air. If you could capture it, put it in a bottle and spray it, your life would be different. There is an energy and a resourcefulness and Lagos that, if we could just learn how to manage it, would be a showpiece for the entire world to see.'
The documentary Lagos/Koolhaas follows Rem Koolhaas during his research in Lagos over a period of two years. Using small digital cameras, the film maker documented Koolhaas documenting Lagos and tried to grasp and convey a sense of the new urban life that is being invented here. Noisy, unpredictable and exploding in multiple screens and acitvities at once, Lagos/Koolhaast delves into the multi-layered fabric of the city and tries to make sense of it.