In honor of Rem Koolhaas’ birthday today, we are bringing you all things Koolhaas: 14 Fun Koolhass quotes; a fabulous article by former New York Times critic, Nicolai Ouroussoff; this ArchDaily original editorial; and, later today, a Round-Up of all of OMA's latest works. Stay tuned!
Imagine London, but not the way you know it. Imagine it physically separated, much like Berlin once was, into two zones: one of pleasure and one of practicality. Consider how the city would eventually appear as inhabitants rushed to the pleasure zone; how the zone of practicality would eventually, inevitably become bereft.
This is the London of a young Rem Koolhaas’ imaginings, written for his Thesis at the Architectural Association School in London in the late 60s. Before Delirious New York, before OMA, and much before the CCTV Tower, Koolhaas was inspired by this idea of the divided city - and it’s a fitting image to start thinking about the ever provocative, often controversial Rem: a man who stands with one foot in the world of desire and the other, reluctantly, in that of practicality; a man who would perhaps prefer the title of urban thinker, despite clearly being one of architecture’s great masters.
It’s exactly this in-between-ness, this reluctance to fit into one supposed role, that has been Koolhaas’ greatest asset, that has allowed him to approach the profession from such unlikely angles. Using the city’s freedoms as his inspiration, and rejecting as given the expectations of what architecture is(even questioning its relevance at all), Koolhass, the “reluctant architect,” is also the most radical of our time, and the most vital for our future.