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Rem Koolhaas Is One of the Most Influential Architects of Our TimeThursday 10 September 2015
Rem Koolhaas Is One of the Most Influential Architects of Our Time ⇒ Rem Koolhaas is a Dutch architect, architectural theorist, urbanist, and Professor in Practice of Architecture and Urban Design at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. Koolhaas’ habit of shaking up established conventions has made him one of the most influential architects of his generation. Architects dig through his books looking for ideas and students from all over the world emulate his work. The attraction lies, in part, in his ability to keep us off balance. Now, CovetED will explore the immeasurable talent of one of the best architects of our time.
Rem Koolhaas has been causing trouble in the world of architecture since his student days in London, in the early 1970s. Architects want to build, and as they age, most are willing to tone down their work if it will land them a juicy commission. But Koolhaas, 67, has remained a first-rate provocateur who, even in our conservative times, just can’t seem to behave.
Remment “Rem” Koolhaas was born in Rotterdam in 1944, during the Allied bombardment, and he grew up in a family of cultured bohemians. His grandfather was an architect who built headquarter buildings for the Dutch airline KLM and the state social security administration. His father wrote magical realist novels and edited a leftist weekly paper. After the war, the family moved to Amsterdam, where Koolhaas spent afternoons playing in the rubble of the state archive building, which had been blown up by the resistance, during the German occupation.
He was a journalist for the Haagse Post before start studies, in 1968, in architecture at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. Followed by further studies with O. Mathias Ungers at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York in 1972 and by studies at the Institute of Architecture and Urban Studies in New York City.
In 1975 together with Elia and Zoe Zenghelis and Madelon Vriesendorp, they founded their own architecture practice – OMA (The Office for Metropolitan Architecture). They were later joined by one of Koolhaas’s students, Zaha Hadid – who would soon go on to achieve success, trailing her own path. Koolhaas is also a founder if OMA’s research-oriented counterpart AMO, operating in areas beyond the realm of architecture such as media, politics, renewable energy and fashion. Both companies are based in Rotterdam, Netherlands. In 2005, he co-founded the Volume Magazine together with Mark Wigley and Ole Bouman.
In 1978, he published the book Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan. In 1995, his book S, M, L, XL summarized the work of OMA in “a novel about architecture”. He heads the work of both OMA and AMO, the research branch of OMA, Koolhaas is a professor at Harvard University, where he conducts the Project on the City. In 2014, he was the director of the 14th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, Fundamentals. In 2000, Rem Koolhaas won the Pritzker Prize. In 2008, Time put him in their top 100 of The World’s Most Influential People.
In October 2008, Rem Koolhaas was invited for a European “group of the wise” under the chairmanship of former Spanish prime minister Felipe González to help ‘design’ the future European Union. Other members have also participated, including Nokia chairman Jorma Ollila, former European Commissioner Mario Monti and former president of Poland Lech Wałęsa.
The past thirty years have seen frantic attempts by architects to escape the domination of the “shoe-box” concert hall. Rather than struggle with the inescapable acoustic superiority of this traditional shape, the Casa da Música attempts to reinvigorate the traditional concert hall in another way: by redefining the relationship between the hallowed interior and the general public outside.
Casa da Música, the new home of the National Orchestra of Oporto, stands on a new public square in the historic Rotunda da Boavista. It has a distinctive faceted form, made of white concrete, which remains solid and believable in an age of too many icons. Inside, the elevated 1,300-seat (shoebox-shaped) Grand Auditorium has corrugated glass facades at either end that open the hall to the city and offer Oporto itself as a dramatic backdrop for performances. Casa da Música reveals its contents without being didactic, at the same time, it casts the city in a new light.
At a moment when libraries are perceived to be under threat from a shrinking public real on one side and digitization on the other side. The Seattle Central Library creates a civic space for the circulation of knowledge in all media, and an innovative organizing system for an ever-growing physical collection – the Books Spiral. The library’s various programs are intuitively arranged across five platforms and four flowing “in between” planes, which together dictate the building’s distinctive faceted shape, offering the city an inspiring building that is robust in both its elegance and its logic.
For the SS 2016, Prada men’s show AMO investigates the perception of continuous space, through an invasion of the ceiling. Plastic sheets hang down acting as a virtual mould that defines the catwalk and seating areas, while the concrete ground area acts as the negative of the above scene.
The fibreglass and polycarbonate stalactites manipulate the proportions and perspectives of the brutal and industrial space. These alternating levels of views and transparencies introduce the guests to a blurred horizon. Arranged in elliptical benches that are determined by the ceiling installation, they never perceive the room as a whole. The wall, floor, and seats, covered in concrete, emerge as a remnant, disturbing the boundaries between seating and catwalk.
OMA designed the Nhow Hotel that opened its doors on January 10, 2014. Nhow Rotterdam is a third of the chain to open its doors, after Berlin and Milan and has a focus on art and architecture. The hotel aims to function as a platform for artists, designers, and new talents. Artworks which are displayed in the hotel are continually renewed to allow different atmospheres at each visit.
Key features of the interior design are the materialization in concrete and steel with elements of gold; stage devices such as theatre spots and video projectors; LED neon lighting and signage; the restaurant bar, back-lit and made with acrylic; and the crafted brass reception desk in the entrance lobby.
OMA is a leading international partnership practising architecture, urbanism, and cultural analysis. OMA’s buildings and masterplans around the world insist on intelligent forms while inventing new possibilities for content and everyday use. OMA is led by ten partners – Rem Koolhaas, Ellen van Loon, Reinier de Graaf, Shohei Shigematsu, Iyad Alsaka, David Gianotten, Chris van Duijn, Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, Jason Long and Michael Kokora – and maintains offices in Rotterdam, New York, Beijing, Hong Kong, Doha, and Dubai.
OMA’s recently completed projects including Fondazione Prada in Milan (2015); G-Star Headquarters in Amsterdam (2014); Shenzhen Stock Exchange (2013); De Rotterdam, a large mixed-use tower in the Netherlands (2013); CCTV Headquarters in Beijing (2012); New Court, the headquarters for Rothschild Bank in London (2011); Milstein Hall at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York (2011); and Maggie’s Centre, a cancer care centre in Glasgow (2011). Earlier buildings include Casa da Música in Porto (2005), Seattle Central Library (2004), and Netherlands Embassy in Berlin (2003).
The influence of OMA has impacted many architecture students and architects who have worked at the office during their careers. Architects such as Bjarke Ingels (BIG), Jeanne Gang (Studio Gang), Amale Andraos and Dan Wood (WORKac) are just some of the architect names that have worked in the office.
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