City Lust

City Lust

London Guangzhou Lagos Dubai Houston

Charlie Koolhaas presents a timely dialogue between words and images about a crucial moment in our recent history: the apotheosis of globalization and its current unraveling.



Title Information

Charlie Koolhaas

1st edition

, 2020


412 pages, 354 color illustrations

20.5 x 30 cm

ISBN 978-3-85881-804-1


In her new book, Charlie Koolhaas takes us to London, Guangzhou, Lagos, Dubai and Houston, cities in which she has either lived or worked. Her personal and humorous account explores the rapid changes taking place in these culturally vastly different metropolises that are being united by the influences of global trade and the evolution of a shared global culture. A captivating combination of photographic documentary and written testimony. City Lust portrays a global landscape that contradicts the current pessimism—to reveal new creativities, unexpected possibilities and intimate connections that emerge despite huge global and economic divides.



Charlie Koolhaas, born 1977 in London, graduated in sociology from New York University and in Interactive Media from Goldsmith’s, University of London. She lives and works as an artist, photographer, and writer in Rotterdam. She has taught visual culture theory at TU Delft and Sandberg Instituut in Amsterdam, and has been a visiting lecturer at Strelka Institute in Moscow, ETH Zurich, HEAD Geneva, and Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Authors & Editors

Interview with Charlie Koolhaas Dutch TV VPRO Mondo—have a look at the video!


"Smart analysis and humorous stories." Ulrich Rüter, Leica Fotografie International


"Photo diary of the London-born artist with photographs from Lagos, Dubai or Houston, which succeed in making visible still undescribed phenomena and moods of the present." Niklas Maak, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung


"Charlie Koolhaas has developed a kind of everyday photography, unembellished and therefore exciting. In contrast to her knowledgeable essay about today's global trade routes and their everyday protagonists, a wonderful commitment to our contemporary urban world is created." Steffen Kühn, KULTUR-EXTRA

"A compelling combination of photographic documentation and written testimony." Regina Plaar, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Photographie e.V.


"Koolhaas has a refreshingly honest and democratic eye that assesses both rich and poor, with a particular concern for the role of minorities in each country. The photographs and the accompanying verbal vignettes are a pleasure to view and read, especially because of the large size of the pages and the design that makes full-bleed printing of the images extraordinarily graphic. […] Tolerance of differences is not easy, but acceptance and respect for others are desperately needed. Our own limitations cause us to be anxious about others. The world-wide demonstrations going on right now and the analyses in this photobook clearly tell us to overcome engrained dislikes and to consider treating others and our world more equitably. " Gerhard Clausing, PhotoBook Journal


"Koolhaas's writing—clear and sharp, humorous and honest—serves to ‘frame the world through a perspective’ rather than record reality. All of the experiences work with the photographs to describe places where the friction of cultural, economic, and other factors rub up against each other to create lived realities where considerations of authenticity, beauty, or other aesthetic concerns are just preposterous. Photos of perfume bottles, ugly buildings, uglier highways, and other subjects might not convey why some people lust for cities, but they certainly describe how cities accommodate so many people of different religions, ethnicities, and levels of income. It's an ugly mess beautifully captured in Koolhaas's images and words." A Daily Dose of Architecture Books

"City Lust houdt ons een spiegel voor. Je hoeft het met haar conclusies niet eens te zijn om het belang te zien van een dergelijke reflectie op het stedelijke leven en de ruimte die daarvoor nodig is. Zeker nu de Europese steden dreigen te bezwijken onder massaal toerisme, woningnood en uitdagingen van klimaat en ongelijkheid en gedwongen worden tot ingrijpende systeemkeuzes. Niet voor niets is in steden als Amsterdam en Utrecht een begin gemaakt met een reflectie op de toekomst van de stad. Continuering van gebiedsontwikkeling à la Hudson Yard is daarbij het schrikbeeld. Dergelijke gebieden met een hoge dichtheid maar met een lage stedelijke intensiteit zijn bepaald geen wenkend perspectief. Charlie Koolhaas’ beelden van omgevingen waarin verschillende. culturen van uiteenlopende kracht samenwonen, bieden aanknopingspunten voor mogelijke andere toekomsten." Harm Tilman


"The density and informality of city life that is pictured in her images now seem somewhat foreign. 'Suddenly, it became a kind of historical document within the space of months that had captured the final remnants of a world that might not even exist any more,' Charlie Koolhaas said." Interview with the photographer about her work by Rosemary Feitelberg,


"Koolhaas’ intimate chronicles of everyday life seek to cast an unbiased, and optimistic light on these political landscapes, the west’s diminishing influence, and the role of art in chronicling this evolution. Though conceived before the events of the last year – coronavirus, police brutality and the economic war between the US and China – City Lust is a timely and potent celebration of multiculturalism in an increasingly globalised world." Harriet Loyd-Smith,