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Rem Koolhaas on Prada, Preservation, Art and Architecture

With the opening of the Fondazione Prada art galleries in May, OMA showed a different side to their practice, one focusing on preservation and assemblage rather than the iconography and diagrammatic layout that many associate with the firm. In this interview, originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Koolhaas Talks Prada," Rem Koolhaas explains the reasoning behind this new approach, and how they attempted to avoid falling into the clichés of post-industrial art spaces.

When the Fondazione Prada opened its doors to a new permanent home in Milan dedicated to contemporary culture, it not only placed the Italian city firmly at the forefront of today’s global art world, but also introduced an ambitious new way of thinking about the relationship between architecture and art. The location—an original 1910 distillery in a distinctly gritty part of the city—comprised seven spaces including warehouses and three enormous brewing cisterns with a raw industrial quality that the architects, Dutch firm OMA, retained while adding three new buildings made of glass, white concrete, and aluminum foam. One, the centrally located Podium, is intended for temporary shows, while another—still under construction—is a nine-story tower that will house the foundation’s archives, art installations, and a restaurant. The third, a theater with a mirrored facade, features folding walls that allow the building to open onto a courtyard. In total, the collection of buildings provides nearly 120,000 square feet of exhibition space, more than twice that of the new Whitney Museum of American Art. Metropolis correspondent Catherine Shaw visited the site with Pritzker Prize–winning architect Rem Koolhaas to find out more about the challenges of creating a new cultural paradigm.

OMA’s approach to the exhibition pavilions is eclectic, though undeniably modern. (Note the Miesian detail of the vertical beam affixed to the building envelope). Image © Bas Princen - Fondazione Prada The Fondazione’s inaugural exhibition, the Serial Classic, explores questions of authenticity and imitation in classical antiquity. The lifesize sculptures are mounted on an intricate flooring system designed for the exhibition and composed of travertine, brushed aluminum, and perspex—all exposed along the edges. Image © Attilio Maranzano The gilded exhibition hall is the central focal point of the Fondazione. Called the Haunted House, the structure’s blank utilitarian features are draped in gold leaf, an ostensibly spontaneous extravagance that Koolhaas post-rationalizes on functionalist grounds. The building towers above the rest of the campus’s open-air spaces and warehouses, which all can be taken in from the Haunted House’s balconies. Image © Bas Princen - Fondazione Prada The Fondazione encompasses a veritable townscape consisting of warehouse hangars interwoven with the new buildings. The former are subtly spruced up, indicated by the linear orange markings repeated on their exterior. Elevation changes in the ground variegate the pedestrian’s experience of the compound while demarcating the Fondazione’s important nodes, such as the cinema clad in a mirrored veneer. Touches likes this lend the complex a haunting, almost surrealist dimension. Image © Bas Princen - Fondazione Prada

Milan Restores Famous Rainbow Tower Tiles

The Milan City Council, in partnership with the Rete Ferroviaria Italiana Gruppo FS Italiane railway authorities, has completed the restoration of the famous Torre Arcobaleno (Rainbow Tower) at Porto Garibaldi. 

Once an anonymous water reservoir in the 1960s, the tower was renovated for the 1990 World Cup as part of an initiative in Italy to “turn downtrodden public works into highly recognizable urban beacons.” At this time, the tower was a piece of the Wonderline project, which connected art and architectural initiatives to themes of color, designed to express “the desire to inhabit our planet intelligently, creating a harmony between technology, nature, innovation, and tradition.”

One Photographer's Definitive Guide to the Pavilions of the 2015 World Expo

Darren Bradley, an architectural photographer and Instagrammer (@modarchitecture) based in San Diego, has shared a definitive collection of photographs from the 2015 World Expo. Each pavilion in the 1.1million square metre exhibition area, located just outside of Milan, is showcasing the best of their technology which offer "a concrete answer to a vital need: being able to guarantee healthy, safe and sufficient food for everyone, while respecting the planet and its equilibrium."

Bahrain. Image © Darren Bradley Poland. Image © Darren Bradley Spain. Image © Darren Bradley Chile. Image © Darren Bradley

Dome Pavilion Milan Expo 2015 / Studio Mosae

  • Architects: Studio Mosae
  • Location: Milan, Italy
  • Design Team: Luisa Basiricò, Michele Maddalo, Dario Pellizzari, Klaus Scalet
  • Area: 986.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2015
  • Photographs: Filippo Poli

© Filippo Poli © Filippo Poli © Filippo Poli © Filippo Poli

Gino Valle Square / Valle Architetti Associati

© Giuseppe Dall'Arche (courtesy Valle Architetti Associati) © Hanns Joostens (courtesy Topotek 1) © Giuseppe Dall'Arche (courtesy Valle Architetti Associati) Courtesy of Valle Architetti Associati

Copagri Pavilion ‘Love IT’ / EMBT

The pavilion designed for Copagri called ‘Love IT’ is located in the south-east part of the Lake Arena – a large circular pool of water at the end of the Cardo, one of the main axes of the Expo Milano 2015 masterplan – and surrounded by the European Union Pavilion and the Vanke Pavilion.

2015 European Summer Exhibition Guide

Exhibitions, much like publications and films, are one of the key contemporary methods for the communication of architectural concepts and ideas. They allow the practice, curator or educative body to edit and present information and visuals in a way which narrates a story, provokes new ideas, or feeds into a wider discourse. For many, exhibitions are an invaluable source of inspiration and an engaging way of gaining new, or reaffirming old, knowledge and design precedents. Intimately linked to the space or place in which they are displayed, the best exhibitions also remind us that the practice of architecture is both a profession and a discipline; a valuable way of understanding the built, and unbuilt, world we live in.

If you're traveling to, living or studying in Europe this summer then dive into our compilation of what we consider to be some of the most informative and exciting exhibitions on show in between June and October 2015. If you visit them, or any other exhibitions that you enjoy, share a photograph on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #archdailyexhibitions.

Check out our favourite exhibitions on architecture, urbanism and design, from Jyväskylä to Milano, after the break. 

Architecture: Concept and Notation at SAM The Brutalist Playground, London. Image © Assemble & Simon Terrill UK Pavilion / Wolfgang Buttress. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu 'Africa' at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Image © Kere Dano

BINARIO 11 / Andrea Langhi Design

  • Architects: Andrea Langhi Design
  • Location: Milan, Italy
  • Design Team: Andrea Langhi Design, Samanta Volpi, Santo Scibetta, Samuele Bernasconi
  • Area: 150.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2013
  • Photographs: Daniele Domenicali

© Daniele Domenicali © Daniele Domenicali © Daniele Domenicali © Daniele Domenicali

Germany Pavilion – Milan Expo 2015 / SCHMIDHUBER + Milla & Partner + Nüssli.

Courtesy of SCHMIDHUBER /+ Milla & Partner + Nüssli.
Courtesy of SCHMIDHUBER /+ Milla & Partner + Nüssli.
  • Architects: SCHMIDHUBER
  • Location: Milan, Italy
  • Overall Responsibility: German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy, Bonn
  • Team: SCHMIDHUBER + Milla & Partner + Nüssli
  • Project Year: 2015
  • Photographs: Courtesy of SCHMIDHUBER /+ Milla & Partner + Nüssli.

Courtesy of SCHMIDHUBER /+ Milla & Partner + Nüssli. Courtesy of SCHMIDHUBER /+ Milla & Partner + Nüssli. Courtesy of SCHMIDHUBER /+ Milla & Partner + Nüssli. Courtesy of SCHMIDHUBER /+ Milla & Partner + Nüssli.

Inside the Spanish Pavilion at the Milan Expo 2015

Spanish photographers Iñigo Bujedo-Aguirre and Adrià Goula have shared with us images of the Spanish pavilion at the Milan Expo 2015. Designed by B720 Fermín Vazquez Arquitectos, the pavilion represents the fusion between Spain’s traditional food and innovative gastronomy. This duality creates an attractive and flexible space, which incorporates an open, patio-like area with orange trees – another symbol of Spanish culture.  

Insider Glimpses Of The Milan Expo Site Hours Before It Officially Opened

Milan-based photographer Delfino Sisto Legnani recently spent time in the compound of the 2015 Milan Expo twenty four hours prior to the inauguration of the event, which officially opened at the start of this month. This unique insight, captured through his lens and preserved for posterity, shows the state of the site and pavilions just before the Italian military began their final safety and security checks. Cables, garbage and hazard tape is strewn across the pavilion entrances and public spaces, while lorries and white vans unload the last of the interiors.

A Guided Tour Of The 2015 Milan Expo

With 145 countries participating in the 2015 Expo, alongside input from international organizations, corporate partners and an extensive program organized by the Expo itself, there's a lot going on in Milan right now. So much so, in fact, that it can be a little overwhelming to get a handle on all the sights that are worth your attention.

Camera Chiara / Annabel Karim Kassar

  • Architects: Annabel Karim Kassar
  • Location: Milan, Italy
  • Architects And Interiors: Annabel Karim Kassar architect, creative director/ Rabih Zeidan architect, project manager / Violaine Jeantet interior architect / 
Christophe Hascoet lighting designer / Caï light lighting designer / Alain Pin lighting designer terra cruda
  • Project: Sergio Sabbadini architect
  • Project Year: 2015
  • Photographs: Nicoló Lanfranchi, Interni

© Nicoló Lanfranchi © Nicoló Lanfranchi © Interni © Interni

Take A Look At Milan Expo's 2015 Pavilions on Opening Day

Italy's global commercial fair, Milan Expo 2015 opened today. The six month event, expected to attract nearly 20 million visitors, is showcasing 54 national pavilions, among a number of corporate and multinational installations, all focused on "Feeding the Planet" and promoting their national cuisine. Pavilions by Foster + Partners, Herzog & de Meuron, SPEECHDaniel Libeskind and many others will remain on view through October 31. 

Bêka and Lemoine's Mini-Series Captures OMA's Final Month of Construction on Fondazione Prada

Building up to the May 9 opening of OMA's Fondazione Prada, Italian filmmakers Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine have released 15-video series that captures the rhythmic and somewhat "transient" nature of the project's last month of construction. Part of a long ongoing relationship between Prada and OMA, the highly anticipated venue will be an "unusually diverse environment" sculpted from a historic 20th-century distillery south of Milan's city center that will be used to exhibit art. 

Daniel Libeskind's "Future Flowers" Represent Oikos at Milan Design Week

Daniel Libeskind, together with Italian paint company Oikos, has transformed the Università Statale’s Pharmacy Courtyard into a garden of "Future Flowers" as part of the 2015 Milan Design Week. On view through May 24, the installation was inspired by one of Libeskind’s "Chamberwork" drawings. It features a series of intersecting red metal "blades" that represent a collection of Oikos paints developed by Libeskind. 

Take an Architectural Tour of Milan with ParkMapp

Released in time for the opening of the Milan Furniture Show at EXPO 2015, ParkMapp is the ultimate guide to Milan's modern and contemporary architecture. An ongoing project by local architecture and design firm Park Associati, ParkMapp is a mobile app that identifies and geo-locates significant landmarks across the city. The app's sleek and legible interface is divided into modern and contemporary architecture, and features pictures and short descriptions of Milanese landmarks. A "lifestyle" section recommending cultural, retail, and dining attractions rounds out what Park Associati envisions as an "active map" for new and returning visitors alike. ParkMapp is available for download via the Apple App Store, or on Google play for Android devices.