Koolhaas’ anti-blob: the Prada Transformer

I just saw the video for the new OMA project for , the Transformer. This currently being assembled in Seoul, Korea allows different configuration for different uses (cinema, exhibition, art , fashion show)  - related to a new mix of disciplines, between art, fashion and architecture.

YouTube Preview Image

Then, the question on how to mix these different uses under one pavilion become the architectural trigger for this new “object” (I rather use that word, as i think “building” is obsolet for it).

These different configurations result by rotating this object -the transformer- with a crane, and each face of this object is a plane with a given shape, specific for each use but also being used as a helper for other uses (ie: the cinema projector).

If you take a look at each of these shapes, they are all common to us: a circle, a cross, a rectangle and an hexagon… which results on a very recognizable object that Koolhaas calls the anti-blob, and I think that´s where Rem scores another one.

Anyway, i highly recommend you to watch the videos at the Prada Transformer website: Koolhaas explaining the transformer, time lapse of the construction and the transformer being rotated with cranes.

Channel pavilion (blob, by Zaha) versus Prada pavilion (anti-blob, by OMA)?

Renderings and diagrams after the break.

Cite: Basulto, David. "Koolhaas’ anti-blob: the Prada Transformer" 11 Mar 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 Sep 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=16597>


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    Let’s get one thing straight: you need a crane to operate the building? This is beyond “loosing it.”

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      certainly nobody invented the black thread…the best ideas do not come from scratch so forgive me if I find your words empty…

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    This idea of shifting functions is good, but the method of using crane to realize the transforming is still stupid. No better solutions?

    By the way, the building’s size is limited by the method of rotating.

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I had just decided that I really liked this when in the “Transform” video on the site I saw that it takes not one, but FOUR cranes to flip it! I really like the concept, but 4 large cranes on-site is not the most elegant solution I’ve seen… It takes away the feel of REM quickly flipping the 3D print around on the meeting room table.

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    form follows function at its best, our should i say “worst”?. aren’ t we through with functionalism?
    let’ s assume prada wants to use the pavilion for a different purpose, something that wasn’ t part of the program from the beginning. in such a case they would be screwed, because the rooms are “perfect” just for the four particular functions.
    wouldn’ t it be more interesting to think of spaces that allow several activities and events, without the use of a crane?
    this is just another cerebral masturbation that doesn’ t create any interesting space at all.
    it is an illusory, trivial flexibility. instead a building should be flexible in a more subtle way.

    thats what i think
    chears, carlo

    “form accomodates function” Robert Venturi

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Yeah, Koolhaas thinks he is the coolest out there.
    Squared rotation? I don’t think so.
    Why have a crane when you can have the whole thing inside a geodesic?
    Bucky Fuller, are you out there? Say something.

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    i have to say [not that it does matter in any way], that finally i got something i was waiting for from the dutchman.
    he shows that he, in fact, deserves all the recognition that he got. and some more.

  7. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I really want the model to use it as a lamp.It is exitingly awesom.I seams to apear another dimension.How you combine those antagonic shapes and build something new and just great, reminds me Tatlin Tower.

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    They are actually building it?? oh man. Forget 4 cranes… looks like it took about 7 or 8 from the construction video! I do like the idea of seeing other program spaces while your engaged in a different program…whether those work well floating above ones head, im not to sure… the good thing about this is that it is pushing the boundries of a pavilion, which is interesting- but that doesn’t mean its good architecture.

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    It’s gonna cost a lot of money to go from fashion show to cinéma…
    The pavilion needs to be rebuild almost totally.
    The pavilion is gonna keep costing money.

  10. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Horrible horrible horrible, those regular forms like the cross or circle looks horibly boring.

  11. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    He did it again!
    He has this ability to produce interesting ‘avant-garde’concepts and convincing somebody to build them.
    I find it notable that he manages to go from a really conceptual phase to an actually built object without losing the freshness of the original idea.

    However, it´s cheaper to built four replicas and leave them rotated into a distinct function, than having to pay for cranes each time you change exhibits. Besides, is the relationship between form and function really clear? I mean it´s possible to do cinema in any of the other plans, or in that case the fashion show in the art exhibition.
    What about incorporating zero gravity rotating toilets, those would pose a problem, I think

  12. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Personally I don’t like it, but I have to admit it is brilliant, because most of all it’s media.
    I think this is the point. Prada is a client since 2000, and OMA have a quite importance in its image care.
    Can you imagine how many rumors will it inflame?

  13. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Come on Prada and Koreans, don’t let him do whatever he wants just because he is a star architect. You deserve some respect! This building is a joke.

  14. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I couldn’t have said it better myself carlo.

    What a joke.

    I think the transforming idea is riculous the building could be a whole lot more subtle with the flexibility of use.

    And if it were to change shape as shown, it should really be designed to do so mechanically by mechanics, hydraulics whatever not de-reconstruction by use of crane….phhhh

  15. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    maybe the crane idea, which seems to be taking a lot of heat, is a result of time/cost constraints–it is a temporary pavilion afterall, and not a permanent structure. i agree that a self-rotating structure would be more elegant and probably preferred by the designer if time and money allowed. it takes a lot of time to design a custom hydraulic system for a rotating tetrahedral structure! it’s not a symple rotation.

    just some thoughts. i’m sure in our theoretical project or studio project we can come up with brilliant solutions, but faced with the reality of construction and constraints, maybe this was deemed the most optimal strategy.

  16. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I think the point of Koolhaas is designing something between joke and reality. And this is just it.

    You need 4 cranes to rotate it now (when in construction), but I haven´t seen how does it work when finished (definitely better).

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