Crafting Urban Life in Three Dimensions: An Interview with Adam Snow Frampton by James Schrader

Footbridge in Central, Hong Kong. Image by Adam Frampton

The following are excerpts from one of 41 interviews that student researchers at the Strelka Institute are publishing as part of the Future Urbanism Project. In this interview, James Schrader speaks with , the co-author of Cities Without Ground and the Principal of Only If, a -based practice for architecture and urbanism. They discuss his work with OMA, the difference between Western and Asian cities, his experiences opening a new firm in New York, and the future of design on an urban scale.

James Schrader: Before we get to future urbanism, I thought it would be interesting to look a bit into your past. Could you tell me about where your interest in cities came from? Were there any formative moments that led to your fascination with cities?

Adam Snow Frampton: I was always interested in cities, but not necessarily exposed to much planning at school. When I went to work at OMA Rotterdam, I was engaged in a lot of large-scale projects, mostly in the Middle East and increasingly in Asia, where there was an opportunity to plan cities at a bigger scale. In the Netherlands, there’s not necessarily more construction than in the US, but there is a tradition of thinking big and a tendency to plan. For instance, many Dutch design offices like OMA, West 8, and MVRDV have done master plans for the whole country.

The Story of Maggie’s Centres: How 17 Architects Came to Tackle Cancer Care

Dundee, Scotland, 2003 by / Courtesy of Maggie’s Centres. ImageThe third center was designed by , a close friend of Maggie’s. “Frank gave us so much publicity, and allowed us to raise the money,” Jencks says. Each center is self-financed through donations.

Maggie’s Centres are the legacy of Margaret Keswick Jencks, a terminally ill woman who had the notion that cancer treatment environments and their results could be drastically improved through good design. Her vision was realized and continues to be realized today by numerous architects, including Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, and Snøhetta - just to name a few. Originally appearing in Metropolis Magazine as Living with Cancer,” this article by Samuel Medina features images of Maggie’s Centres around the world, taking a closer look at the organization’s roots and its continued success through the aid of architects.

It was May 1993, and writer and designer Margaret Keswick Jencks sat in a windowless corridor of a small Scottish hospital, dreading what would come next. The prognosis was bad—her cancer had returned—but the waiting, and the waiting room, were draining. Over the next two years until her death, she returned several times for chemo drips. In such neglected, thoughtless spaces, she wrote, patients like herself were left to “wilt” under the desiccating glare of fluorescent lights.

Wouldn’t it be better to have a private, light-filled space in which to await the results of the next bout of tests, or from which to contemplate, in silence, the findings? If architecture could demoralize patients—could “contribute to extreme and mental enervation,” as Keswick Jencks observed—could it not also prove restorative?

This is the central idea behind the experiment Keswick Jencks, or “Maggie,” started with her husband, architectural historian and theorist Charles Jencks, more than two decades ago. Their mission—to provide free, global care for cancer patients through great architecture—has since expanded to encompass 17 building projects (“Maggie’s Centres”), many of them by celebrated architects like Richard Rogers and Rem Koolhaas.

5 Years Later, A Look Back on OMA’s Prada Transformer

© Iwan Baan

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the opening of OMA’s Prada Transformer. This fantastical temporary structure, erected in 2009 adjacent to Gyeonghui Palace in Seoul, Korea, is one of Rem Koolhaas’ most popular projects to date. Composed of a stark white membrane stretched across four steel frame shapes, The Transformer was often referred to as an “anti-blob” –a hexagon, a rectangle, a cross, and a circle leaning against each other to create a tetrahedron-like object reminiscent of a circus tent.  The name Transformer came from the idea that any one of the pavilion’s sides could serve as the building’s floor, allowing for four unique spaces in one building devoted to exhibitions of modern art, fashion and design.

The Transformer played host to four such events, being lifted up and repositioned onto a different face each time via crane. The first was a garment exhibition, displayed using the hexagonal  floor plan.  The second, a film festival that took place on the rectangular floor plan.  A fashion show was staged using the Transformer’s circular floor plan, and an art installation was shown using the cruciform floor plan.  As patron Miuccia stated in an interview with The New York Times, “In my mind they [the arts] may be mixed but I want to keep them separate… So the Transformer concept was not for a generic space, but to be very specific, with all things separate in one building.”

We asked OMA’s Vincent McIlduff to tell us more about this project. See his answers, a photo gallery and a time-lapse video of the transformation after the break!

Wingårdhs Bests Snøhetta, Foster + Partners in Statoil Competition

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A jury of seven, consisting of three architects and four Statoil employees, unanimously chose Wingårdhs’ design proposal—dubbed “E=mc2″—for the company’s campus at Forus West in Norway. Four other firms were shortlisted along with Wingårdhs: Foster + Partners (UK) together with Space Group (Norway), OMA (), Snøhetta (Norway) and Helen & Hard (Norway) together with SAHAA (Norway). OMA, however, pulled out of the competition before the final submission.

The competition consisted of a proposal for an office building for 3500 work places and a masterplan for the entire Statoil property at Forus West. Wingårdhs’ design features an elliptical, chamfered building that tapers to 16 stories, set within a masterplan that will give the company a high degree of flexibility for future development. Statoil announced on Thursday that “The jury sees the potential for [E=mc2"] to be a distinct identity carrier for Statoil, which will both strengthen the Forus area and give Statoil employees pride and inspiration. The project has a significant innovative nature through advanced technological solutions, which fits well with Statoil as a leading technology company. Its clear inclined surface towards the sun is suitable for Statoil’s energy and environmental ambitions.”

More information about Wingårdhs’ winning proposal and images of the other teams’ proposals can be found after the break.

VIDEO: I LIKE Blue

ArchDaily has teamed up with Portugal’s Canal 180 to bring you their series I LIKE. Check out episode 5, I LIKE Blue, which features OMA/AMO‘s 2012 Prada Catwalk, DOSE‘s Bluetube Bar, Rad Louda & WRKSHP’s full-scale blue foam model of an interior, and more.

I LIKE is an original series on architecture and spatial intervention, developed in a collaboration between Canal 180 and LIKEarchitects atelier. Diogo Aguiar and Teresa Otto have created a chromatic experiment and spatial exercise—organized by color—that reveals some of the most amazing architectural interventions in the world.

Next week ArchDaily will premier the sixth installment of I LIKE. Stay tuned!

Previous episodes in the I LIKE series:
Episode 1 – I LIKE Black
Episode 2 – I LIKE Pink
Episode 3 – I LIKE Purple
Episode 4 – I LIKE Multicolor

G-Star RAW HQ / OMA

Courtesy of OMA - G-Star

Architects: OMA
Location: Joan Muyskenweg 39, 1099 , The
Architect In Charge: Rem Koolhaas, Reinier de Graaf, Ellen van Loon
Current Team (Construction + Interiors): Katrien van Dijk (project leader), Tjeerd van de Sandt, Saskia Simon, Marina Cogliani, Jung-Won Yoon
Area: 19000.0 sqm
Year: 2014
Photographs: Courtesy of OMA – G-Star

OMA Tops BIG, Büro Ole Scheeren to Design Axel Springer Campus in Berlin

OMA’s winning proposal for the Axel Springer Campus in . Image Courtesy of Axel Springer SE

After deliberating over the stellar proposals of three renowned firmsBIG, Büro Ole Scheeren, and OMA, Berlin-based media company AXEL SPRINGER SE has just announced that Rem Koolhaas’ design is the winning proposal for their new office building.

The task of the competition was to create additional space for the media company, particularly its digital offers, and thus design a workplace fit for the future of online media. Koolhaas’ design, which features a large 30-meter high atrium or “open valley” with interconnected terraces and public workspaces for both individual, collaborative, and mobile work, won favor with the jury for its forward-thinking concept. As Dr. Mathias Döpfner, Chief Executive Officer of Axel Springer SE, commented: “[Koolhaas] presented the conceptually and esthetically most radical model. The fundamental innovation of working environments will support the cultural transformation towards a digital publishing house.”

For his part, Koolhaas had this to say: “It is a wonderful occasion to build in Berlin again, on this historical site of all places, for a client who has mobilized architecture to help perform a radical change…a workplace in all its dimensions.”

See more of OMA’s winning proposal, after the break…

Rem Koolhaas’ Current Fascinations: On Identity, Asia, the Biennale, & More

Courtesy of Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture, and Design, via Flickr

In this interview, originally published in The Architectural Review, Andrew Mackenzie sits down with OMA founder Rem Koolhaas to discuss the Venice Biennale, the extinction of national identities, his fascination with Asia, the link between De Rotterdam and Delirious New York, and the future of the profession.

Your proposition for this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale asks whether national identity has been, as you say, ‘sacrificed to modernity’. Some might view this as a project of reclamation, not unlike Frampton’s regionalism. How would you differentiate your proposition from Frampton’s?

Well, Kenneth Frampton is a smart guy, but the problem is that he looked at regionalism as an antidote to cosmopolitan development. In so doing he perverted the cause of regionalism, because suddenly regionalism was mobilised as a private cause that it couldn’t sustain. However, the question of national identity is an open one. For instance, at first sight the Netherlands is a very internationalist country, but looking closely you can see an enormous return of, not vernacular, but quasi-vernacular architecture and quasi-old fortresses that are newly built with a national flavour. Look at Zaandam, and that huge assemblage of so-called vernacular buildings.

OMA to Design 550-Foot Residential Tower in San Francisco

Site Image. Via Curbed

As part of an initiative to raise money for the Transbay Transit Center, the City of has sold a $72 million, city-owned parcel to developer Related of California that will pave the way for a 550-foot, New York-designed residential tower. Located on Folsom Street, between First and Fremont streets, the new tower will be a mix of condominiums and rental apartments, of which 27 percent must be affordable to residents making 60 percent of the area’s median income ($58,250 for a family of four, according to SFGate). We will keep you posted as more details become available. 

5 Ways Koolhaas’ Biennale Will Be Different From the Rest

Paolo Baratta and . © Giorgio Zucchiatti. Image Courtesy of la Biennale di Venezia

As Rem Koolhaas completes the introductory press circuit for the 2014 Venice Biennale, we’re learning more about one of the most anticipated Biennales in recent memory. Here’s what we’ve gleaned from Oliver Wainwright’s revealing story in today’s Guardian:

1. Koolhaas has been asked to direct the before, but hasn’t accepted until now. “I have been asked to direct it a number of times before, but I held out for two conditions: that I have a year and a half to plan it, and that I can sever all connections with contemporary architecture – which is not in particularly good health.”

Latest Details Released on Koolhaas’ Venice Biennale 2014 “Fundamentals”

Elements of Architecture Stair – Models at the Friedrich Mielke Institute of Scalology. © . Image Courtesy of la Biennale di Venezia

UPDATE: In a press conference on Monday, Venice Biennale director Paolo Baratta and curator Rem Koolhaas expressed their commitment to using the event to highlight “things that architects can’t ignore.” These “Fundamentals” get back to the basic inventions of modernity, thus individual exhibitions will look to the “elementary particles of architecture.” Paying special attention to the developments of the past century, Baratta and Koolhaas hope that the event will serve as “a reference point and source of inspiration for architecture.”

The Biennale website has posted new images and an expanded description of the Biennale and its events:

Fundamentals consists of three interlocking exhibitions – Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014Elements of Architectureand Monditalia – that together illuminate the past, present and future of our discipline. After several architecture Biennales dedicated to the celebration of the contemporary, Fundamentals will look at histories, attempt to reconstruct how architecture finds itself in its current situation, and speculate on its future.”

Read on to learn more about architecture’s most celebrated exhibition.

Venice Biennale 2014: Full List of National Participants Revealed

A few hours ago in Venice, presented his curatorial vision for “Fundamentals” in a live-streamed opening press conference. As we reported last year, “Fundamentals” will focus on architecture rather than architects and history rather than contemporaneity. Koolhaas will not just curate an exhibition of his own, but will be coordinating the “collective effort of all national pavilions.”

This year’s exhibition features the participation of 65 countries–including 11 first-time participants (Azerbaijan, Côte d’Ivoire, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, New Zealand and Turkey). See the complete list of national participants–which includes collaborations with Jacques Tati, Hans Ulrich Obrist, FAT, Iñaki Ábalos and others–after the break.

Click here to see all of ArchDaily’s previous coverage of the 2014 . And stay tuned… we’ll be bringing you on-the-ground reports from Venice when the Biennale launches in the first week of June!

OMA’s Latest Prada Catwalk: A Stage Punctuated with Geometric Pockets

© Agostino Osio / OMA

For the last decade, OMA / AMO have collaborated with to design their conceptually daring catwalks. We have images of the latest, designed for Milan’s Week, just after the break. For more on this collaboration, you should check out OMA’s website as well as Wallpaper‘s awesome article on how these catwalk collaborations have evolved throughout the years.

In OMA’s De Rotterdam, Furniture Transforms 60-meters into Multi-Functional, Versatile Space

’s De Rotterdam, a project 15 years in the making, is designed to maximize the number of functions possible in 44 floors. In addition to shops, hotels and office space, this “vertical city” also contains apartments that use transformable furniture to pack a variety of uses into small spaces. Chairs double as wall art and sofas flip into beds, showing that a 60 square meter apartment is more versatile than we think. 

Developer Wim De Lathauwer explains, ”Why would we only think in quantity of bedrooms and square meters, while many of these spaces are used only sporadically?…In we are simply not used to this way of thinking. De Rotterdam is the ideal project when it comes to maximizing the joy of every square meter. We deal with an audience who understands this and yearns for this extra quality. Even in the large apartments the office, wardrobe- and guest room are combined in one space. Actually, it is very logical.” You can see the dynamic furniture, designed by Clei Italia, in the video below. 

Read more about The Netherlands’ largest building here

Proposals for Statoil’s Norway HQ from OMA, Foster + Partners, Snøhetta and More

© Harald Pettersen / Statoil

Norwegian energy corporation Statoil has revealed proposals for a new corporate from the five architecture firms that were shortlisted last October: OMA, Foster + Partners with Space Group, Snøhetta, Wingårdhs, and Helen & Hard with SAAHA. The competition–announced in September of 2013–called for a project that would ”take into consideration a number of new measures in the region regarding public transport, parking, roads and other types of infrastructure.” The winner will be announced in April/May. 

Statoil hasn’t disclosed which project belongs to which firm, but the ArchDaily editors have had some fun trying to put a name to each model. What do you think? Let us know your guesses in the comments!

The Berlage Archive: Rem Koolhaas + Kenneth Frampton (1998)

ArchDaily has teamed up with the The Berlage to provide exclusive access to their newly digitized archive of lectures. The Berlage is a postgraduate international institute where some of the world’s most renowned architects, thinkers, designers, photographers and other professionals come to share, exchange and critically reflect upon their ideas. Over the last 23 years, The Berlage has built up an extensive lecture archive of seminal lectures. Thanks to this partnership now we can now share them with you. ArchDaily is committed to providing inspiration and knowledge to architects all over the world, so please look forward to monthly publications of these lectures during the coming year, which include talks by Rem Koolhaas, Jacques Herzog, Toyo Ito, and more.

This 1998 lecture reflects Rem Koolhaas’ desire to initiate a direct meeting of the critic and the architect, so it’s no surprise that the he called upon to join him in conversation. (Koolhaas–with his tendency toward polemic, hyperbolic statements–even refers to Frampton as “maybe the only critic left.”) The two spend a significant time debating the role of the critic, often disagreeing and playfully challenging the other’s theories.

Recorded at a time when the Office for Metropolitan Architecture was working on the Educatorium, the Maison à Bordeaux and the recently completed De Rotterdam, the conversation also delves into discussions of China’s emergent urbanization (which was, in 1998, still relatively young) as well as “the star system.”

VIDEO: What We Can Learn From Tall Buildings

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What do you think the North American, Asian and Western European tall building communities most need to learn from each other? This is precisely what the Center on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat () sat down to ask five leading architects, whose responses formed an eclectic and meaningful overview on the state of tall building worldwide. As Rem Koolhaas noted, each region has their own journey that is worth understanding, such as the Arab world’s transition from “extravagance to rationality” or Asia’s hyper-focus on project realization. However, as James Goettsch points out, “not every building has to be something remarkable.” It’s alright for some buildings to be nothing more than “good citizens.”

Watch all five responses in the short video above.

AD Interviews: David Gianotten / OMA

During the Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture, we had the opportunity to speak with David Gianotten, partner-in-charge of OMA’s Hong Kong office. Gianotten launched the Dutch firm’s Asian headquarters in 2009, where he supervises major projects such as the Shenzhen Stock Exchange and the Taipei Performing Arts Centre.

Standing outside of the recently completed Stock Exchange headquarters, he answered our questions about urbanization, innovation and the intricacies of running an office in an environment with such rapid urban growth. has proven an experiment of economic openness and is a vivid example of China’s recent growth. The city’s skyline is practically a physical graph of an upward-trending economy, with buildings designed by nearly every internationally renowned architecture firm. But ’s Shenzhen Stock Exchange building stands apart from the rest not only because of its impeccable construction (a rarity in the fast-paced building booms of Chinese cities), but also because it houses the institution that lists China’s biggest companies.

The 254 meter tower is an elegant structure that combines pure volumes with an exoskeleton grid clad in translucent glass. It represents a characteristic OMA-approach to innovative architectural solutions, made possible by extensive programmatic and technical research.

Read the full interview (which includes Gianotten’s insights on the study of architecture, the role of architects, and the importance of simplicity when communicating complex innovation) after the break.