Merete Ahnfeldt-Mollerup is associate Professor at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. This article originally appeared in GRASP.
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Architecture is inseparable from planning, and the huge challenge for the current generation is the growth and shrinkage of cities. Some cities, mainly in the Southern Hemisphere, are growing at exponential rates, while former global hubs in the northern are turning into countrysides. In the south, populations are still growing a lot, while populations are dwindling in Europe, Russia and North East Asia. The dream of the Bilbao effect was based on the hope that there might be a quick fix to both of these problems. Well, there is not.
A decade ago, few people even recognized this was a real issue and even today it is hardly ever mentioned in a political context. As a politician, you cannot say out loud that you have given up on a huge part of the electorate, or that it makes sense for the national economy to favor another part. Reclaiming the agricultural part of a nation is a political suicide issue whether you are in Europe or Latin America. And investing in urban development in a few, hand-picked areas while other areas are desolate is equally despised.
In order to accommodate the expansion of the local tram system, La Fabrique Métropolitaine de la Communauté Urbaine de Bordeaux has commissioned OMA to design a new major urban development in the southern district of Bordeaux, France. Over the next five years, the masterplan will regenerate the neighborhoods of Bègles and Villenave d’Ornon by forging new connections to Bordeaux’s central station and unlocking the potential for both city development and public space.
This project is part of the new identity for the “Porte Sud de Bordeaux” (Bordeaux south gate) and continues OMA’s intensive recent engagement in Bordeaux, as the office has been working since 2010 on the masterplan for 50,000 new housing units in the city.
More on OMA’s Bordeaux masterplan after the break…
This week at the 52nd edition of the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan, over 2,500 exhibitors showcased an endless collection of the latest international products and home-furnishing designs. Among them included a variety of elegant and intelligently designed items envisioned by some of our favorite architects. Continue after the break to scroll through a list of the best architect-designed products featured at the Milan Design Week 2013.
Out of 140 architects considered, 12 architects have been selected by the Nobel Foundation to compete to design their new home, a Nobel Center in Blasieholmen, Stockholm. The conspicuously European selection, chosen for their “design and artistic abilities and experience working in intricate urban environments,” includes some very big names – including BIG, David Chipperfield Architects, Herzog & de Meuron, and OMA. The only non-Europeans to compete will be SANAA’s Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa.
See the full list of competitors, and more information on the competition, after the break…
Both Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright can be found on a lengthy list of architects who have tried to build in Venice and lost their battle to conservationists. However, OMA has broke through this barrier, as the practice was recently approved – after five years pending – to go forth with a project to renovate a 16th century palazzo for the fashion retailer Benetton near the Rialto Bridge on the Grand Canal.
More details and statements from the architect after the break…
Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) recently held a lecture featuring performance artist Marina Abromović alongside OMA principle Shohei Shigematsu in the anticipation of the Marina Abromović Institute for the Preservation of Performing Art (MAI) 2014 opening. In the lecture, Shigematsu speaks about the process in which they transformed a former theater in Hudson, New York, into a structure that’s capable of assisting the institute’s mission to develop new kinds of performance, while functioning as a space for preserving and hosting historic performance pieces. Shigematsu references OMA’s history of designing spaces that combine architecture and art, such as the Quebec National Museum and a recent collaboration with Kanye West.
More on this discussion after the break…
After winning an international competition, OMA has been commissioned to masterplan a new 10km2 Airport City for a population of 200,000, linking the new Hamad International Airport with the city of Doha, Qatar. OMA’s masterplan is a series of four circular districts along a spine parallel to the HIA runways, intended to create a strong visual identity and districts with unique identities. Phase One of the 30-year masterplan, which links airside and landside developments for business, logistics, retail, hotels, and residences, will be mostly complete in time for the 2022 World Cup, hosted by Qatar.
Rem Koolhaas commented: “We are delighted and honored to participate in the exciting growth of Doha, in a project that is perhaps the first serious effort anywhere in the world to interface between an international airport and the city it serves.”
More on OMA’s airport city after the break…
Last month, we reported on OMA’s latest competition winner: the Essence Financial Building, a building that OMA Partner David Gianotten described as “a new generation of office tower” for the city of Shenzhen, China. To talk us through the building’s cutting edge sustainable features, we spoke with Arpan Bakshi, an architect, engineer, and Sustainability Manager at YR&G, OMA’s sustainability consultants, who led the environmental design for the project.
Learn more about the Essence Financial Building, OMA’s collaborative approach, and Bakshi’s views on the future of sustainable design – for both China and the world – after the break…
Gehry’s chiseled, 244 foot tower is not the only mixed-use proposal currently being considered by the city of Santa Monica, as officials have selected three international teams led by prominent architects to submit proposals for a “significant” and “signature” development on a 2.5 acre site downtown. Located on Arizona Avenue between 4th and 5th streets, the parcel is currently occupied by a parking lot and two banks. Although the city did not specify a size constraint, the proposed designs will be expected to fit within the surrounding context and include an appropriate mix of of retail, office, hotel and residential space.
The following teams have been asked to submit proposals in May:
OMA is designing a new department store concept in Kuwait City. The Exhibition Hall, in the popular 360° Mall, will showcase the creativity of the region alongside international fashion brands through a flexible curated retail space, featuring cultural programs, exhibitions and installations. The project is led by OMA partners Iyad Alsaka and Rem Koolhaas, in partnership with Tamdeen Real Estate Co.
Location: Kuwait City, Kuwait
Project Architect: Alessandro De Santis
Architects In Charge: Iyad Alsaka, Rem Koolhaas,
Collaborators: Tamdeen Real Estate Co.
Area: 9,400 sqm
Photographs: Courtesy of OMA
OMA has won the design competition for the Essence Financial Building in Shenzhen, China. Led by OMA Partners David Gianotten and Rem Koolhaas, the design beat out four other entries by international and Chinese practices.
The skyscraper will be OMA’s second in Shenzhen (the first being the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, which will be completed in April this year). By challenging many typical office tower conventions (such as a central core plan and curtain wall systems), OMA hopes their buildings will help lead the way for a “new generation” of office towers in the city.
As David Gianotten commented in the Press Release: ”OMA is very excited about its continuous and deepening participation in Shenzhen’s development, especially as the city makes its latest evolution: from a manufacturing city into a services hub. This next generation of urbanism calls for a new generation of office towers of which the Essence Financial Building could be one.”
More on the Essence Financial Building, after the break…
Looking to redefine the relationship between students, buildings and the city of Milan, Bocconi University challenged architects world-wide to design a “campus for the third millennium”. Although first prize was awarded to SANAA’s courtyard-centric complex formed by a series of undulating figures, OMA’s proposal provides an interesting twist to intercity university campuses.
Formulating a composition of objects that “represents a three-dimensional re-learning of humanistic values”, OMA’s Bocconi Urban Campus proposal sets the stage for Homo Economicus. Two clusters of independent buildings – an “extroverted” new school of management and the “introverted” a-frame student housing tower – are centered around a public amphitheater topped by a canopy of “architectural” umbrellas. While the thirteen story tower shelters the more intimate campus programs and acts as a backdrop to the boisterous new school, all spaces remain permeable to the activities of the surrounding city and establish the most appropriate and stimulating connection.
More photos of OMA’s proposal after the break…
Shohei Shigematsu is the director of internationally renowned architecture firm OMA in New York. He has been a driving force in conceptual projects such as the Universal headquarters in Los Angeles, the Whitney Museum extension in New York, the China National Museum and Prada Epicenters for Shanghai and London. Here we visit the New York offices to discuss urban planning, his latest project with Marina Abramovic and the role of architects in society.
Australian firm HASSELL Studio, OMA and Populous have been announced as the winners for the redevelopment of Sydney’s new convention, exhibition and entertainment precinct (SICEEP) at Darling Harbour.
The 20-hectare, billion dollar project, which will stretch from Cockle Bay to Haymarket and Ultimo, will include Australia’s largest convention and exhibition facilities, Sydney’s largest red carpet entertainment venue, a hotel complex with up to 900 rooms, and a new urban neighborhood in Haymarket.
More on this project, after the break…
A few months ago we informed you about a competition to re develop the massive “wedding-cake” style building at 425 Park Ave in NY, near Mies’ Seagram Building and SOM’s Lever House. The objective of the developer, L&L Holding, was to turn this project into the next iconic building of the city, and for that they invited a group of eleven renowned practices, including ten Pritzker laureates.
The shortlist was announced in October, and included OMA, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects and Foster + Partners, which was later announced as the winner of the competition a few weeks ago.
Over the last days, the presentations of the architects to the clients appeared on YouTube, and now we have the opportunity to see these interesting group of architects doing a fundamental part of their work. In the videos we see each architect using their own presentation style, either a PPT, video or just physical boards, connecting it to the practice’s research and discourse, projecting their passion about certain features of their projects and engaging with the client around their main objective: to turn this into an iconic project.
Four videos that take us further into how we understand projects, showing insights that we often don’t have access to, turning the competition into a particular moment of architecture this year.
Zaha Hadid Architects, OMA and Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners presentations after the break:
Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser has announced the launch of the Qatar National Library (QNL), to be designed by Rem Koolhaas of OMA.
The QNL, a public access library, will symbolically connect the country’s past and future. As her highness explained: “The library’s vision of bridging with knowledge Qatar’s heritage and future demonstrates the significant role QNL will play in unlocking human potential as Qatar builds a knowledge-based economy. A modern dynamic National Library for the country is essential in reaching this goal.”
As such, Rem Koolhass – an architect known both for his iconic structures as well as his success with the Seattle Public Library - has been hand-picked for the important design, soon to be, according to the QNL website, ”one of the most [...] iconic landmarks in Qatar and the region.” As a library on the cutting-edge of digital archiving, the building will require innovative facilities (including over 300 public computers, wifi and multi-media production studios); however, it will also serve the community as a relaxed, social gathering place.
More images of OMA’s plans for the Qatar National Library, after the break….
High profile architects BIG (Bjarke Ingels) and OMA (Rem Koolhaas) are in a close battle to win the redevelopment competition for the design of the Miami Beach Convention Center. Recently put on hold by a corruption probe and procedural concerns, Miami Beach’s ambitious plans to create a 52-acre convention center district are again progressing toward a crucial vote by elected officials. The committee’s recommendations will be reviewed by interim City Manager Kathie Brooks, who will issue her own recommendation to city commissioners. Commissioners could vote on the project and development teams Dec. 12. More information after the break.