Rem Koolhaas, one of today's most celebrated architects, has lived a significant year. With the closing of his much-talked about Venice Biennale just days away, the Dutchman also turns 70 years old this coming Monday.
The President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping, has reportedly called for an end to the "weird buildings" being built in China, and particularly in the nation's capital, Beijing. In a two hour speech at a literary symposium in Beijing last week, Mr Xi expressed his views that art should serve the people and be morally inspiring, identifying architectural projects such as OMA's CCTV Headquarters as the kind of building that should no longer be constructed in Beijing.
With China's construction boom being one of the most talked about features of today's architecture scene - and many a Western practice relying on their extravagant projects to prop up their studios - the Chinese leader's comments have the potential to affect the landscape of architectural practice worldwide. But what is behind these sentiments? Read on after the break to find out.
In December of last year, we brought you news of Tomas Koolhaas' kickstarter campaign to fund a documentary about his father, Rem Koolhaas. Well, not only was Koolhaas' REM documentary fully funded, three generous backers offered up $500 each in return for one question to be answered directly by Rem Koolhaas himself. The video above is the result of those questions, in which Koolhaas responds to questions on urbanism in the developed country of the Netherlands compared to still-developing India, as well as a question about how his early work in film-making and scriptwriting influenced his architectural career.
Watch the video above and read on after the break for a synopsis of Koolhaas' answers
The competition jury for Washington D.C.'s 11th Street Bridge Park has unanimously selected OMA + OLIN's design to turn the ageing freeway structure over the Anacostia River into an elevated park and new civic space for the city. With their dynamic intersecting structure, OMA + OLIN saw off competition from three other teams composed of: Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT), NEXT Architects and Magnusson Klemencic Associates; Stoss Landscape Urbanism and Höweler + Yoon Architecture; and Balmori Associates and Cooper, Robertson & Partners.
Read on after the break for more on the design and a complete set of images.
OMA, Höweler + Yoon, NEXT Architects, and Cooper, Robertson & Partners are amongst four interdisciplinary teams competing to design Washington D.C.’s first elevated public park. As part of a six month nationwide competition, the shortlisted teams have just released their preliminary design proposals for what will be known as the 11th Street Bridge Park.
Suspended over the Anacostia River, the multi-use park aims to re-connect two disparate city districts and re-engage residents with the riverfront by offering a 21st century civic “playscape.” Education and performance spaces, as well as a cafe and water sport areas will all be included in the masterplan.
A preview of the four shortlisted schemes, after the break…
OMA has announced the addition of four new equity partners, all promoted from Associate level, to take its total number of partners to ten. The move is a reflection of OMA's increasing workload in both architectural projects, and also the increasing involvement of AMO, the company's research offshoot. With two of the new partners based in their overseas offices, it also represents a move to strengthen their work in markets outside of their European base. Read on after the break for details of all four new partners.
OMA has recently transformed the F stage of the Corderie at the Venice Biennale to become a four screen, 360-degree cinema hall. Complementing the exhibitions at the Biennale, full movies will be screened in the space on weekends from now until November.
More on the movie screenings after the break
OMA's Taipei Performing Arts Center (TPAC) has topped out in a ceremony including Taipei’s mayor Hau Lung-pin, and OMA's Partners in charge of the project, Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten. Even in its current skeletal state, the rigidly geometric form is clearly expressed with it's central cube supporting three protruding auditoriums, two cubic and one spherical. The design of the TPAC is in many ways experimental, incorporating a looped public path which shows off the building's backstage areas, and flexible auditoriums which can even be combined, offering extraordinary stage spaces that allow performances which would be impossible in any other theater.
Ahead of the topping out ceremony we spoke to partner in charge David Gianotten, who explained the building's design concepts and the challenges (or rather, surprising lack of challenges) in the construction, and told us "you will only understand it when you have seen it. It's super exciting, we encourage everybody that loves architecture to come and see it because it's spectacular."
Read on after the break for the full interview
In this 2009 lecture titled "Fabricating Ideology and Architectural Education," seminal architect, educator, and co-founder of OMA Elia Zenghelis discusses the development of ideologies that shape architectural discourse vis-a-vis architectural education. Arguing that architectural education is motivated by religious, socio-political, and economic principles, Zenghelis makes the case that the war-torn 20th century has been an era of upheaval and conflict, resulting in the loss of historical context and a confused state for artists and architects. Proposing the idea that architecture is a servant of power, and is thus intrinsically intertwined with political and societal trends, Zenghelis urges a return to a contextualized understanding of architectural history in order for contemporary architects to develop a sensitive and nuanced approach to their practice.
Discussing his relationships and collaborations with former students and colleagues Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, and Peter Eisenman, as well as the political and architectural legacy of such giants as Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe, Elia Zenghelis provides a compelling conversation about the inherent role of architecture in political discourse.
Don't miss the other lectures in The Berlage Archive series:
"I feel a misfit in my own time," says Rem Koolhaas, setting the tone. Seated in soon-to-be renovated Galeries Lafayette in Paris, Koolhaas bares all intellectually through the course of his lecture. As founder of Rotterdam-based OMA with a worldwide practice, candid conversations with Koolhaas are rare. The discussion provides a glimpse into the creative process of one of the world's leading architects and current Curator of the Venice Biennale of Architecture. Koolhaas confides in the audience from the outset, admitting his discomfort with current architecture. "From the inside of my current condition, I feel profoundly out of step with the contemporary situation," says Koolhaas, adding "I'm very annoyed by the contemporary belief in comfort as the ultimate virtue."
Following the controversial decision to scrap plans by OMA earlier this year, Miami Beach officials have selected Arquitectonica for the redesign of the Miami Beach Convention Center. In a significant scaling-down of OMA's $1 billion masterplan, the new scheme calls for the existing center to be kept and renovated to 'Class A' standards, along with the addition of a new ballroom, meeting space and rooftop parking. The center's existing parking lot will be converted into a 6.5 acre public park, designed by landscape firm West 8.
More on the Convention Center Controversy after the break
Though the professional practice of architecture can be broadly defined, we often just focus on the design work in relation to the completed building, leaving behind other areas in which architects find more opportunities. In this infographic created by OMA in preparation for the Monditalia exhibition at the Venice Biennale, we see how the professional activities are distributed among these sub-areas such as planning, landscape design, interior design and feasibility studies--a relationship which can also allow us to extrapolate the outcomes and products that emerge from these countries.
Click the infographic to get a closer look and browse the projects we've published from the represented countries:
The component parts of Monditalia, the 41 projects that line the vast corridor of the Arsenale, provide contextualization for architecture operating within larger systems, be it politics, media, border control, religion, etc. When we spoke to Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli of AMO, Monditalia's head curator, he stressed that "the exhibition is a method, more than anything. This idea of the scanning through the country, selecting case studies, selecting another way to represent the case studies…it's a method that can be applied also elsewhere."
Monditalia mobilizes the other sectors of the Venice Biennale -- Cinema, Dance and Music -- in order to capture a "polyphonic" portrait of a European country with what Laparelli describes as "extreme conditions." Infographics produced in preparation for the exhibition demonstrate the statistical disparities between Italy and other nations. The scan of Italy begins from the south and continues to the north, allowing "different topics to collaps[e] or collid[e] onto each other, such as you would find when you travel through a real territory."
Monditalia's events have been programmed to take place between June and November in conjunction with a series of 21 Weekend Specials that allow further exploration of the issues/topics/case studies brought forth in the exhibition at large.
Derelict urban landscapes and abandoned spaces have always attracted adventurous explorers, searching for a peek into the world of a fallen industrial dystopia. That desire can be fulfilled by a visit to the Zollverein complex in Essen, Germany: once Europe’s largest coal mine, Zeche Zollverein was transformed over 25 years into an architectural paradise. Contributions by Rem Koolhaas, Norman Foster and SANAA are included in the 100-hectare park; overwhelming in its complexity, the estate includes rusty pipes, colossal coal ovens and tall chimneys, inviting over 500,000 people per day to gain an insight into the golden age of European heavy-industry.
Join us for a photographic journey through this machine-age playground, after the break…
OMA has unveiled its latest design project to blend the worlds of fashion and architecture: the refurbishment of a late 19th century industrial building for French high-end retail group Galeries Lafayette’s Fondation d’Entreprise, in Paris.
OMA is no stranger to the world of fashion, having collaborated on bold catwalk designs for Prada over the last decade as well as the renovation of a 16th century palazzo in Venice for Benetton. For Galeries Lafayette, a five-story, U-shaped, courtyard building built in 1891 will be transformed into a space for exhibitions and production. Located in Le Marais, one of Paris’ oldest neighborhoods, the architecture is protected under a heritage preservation plan. The building is to be fully preserved, cleaned and restored, and OMA’s design also includes the construction of a new exhibition tower for the courtyard. The tower will contain two sets of mobile platforms that can be split into four independent platforms, adding additional space and flexibility.
See photos and read a project description from OMA after the break.
Construction is underway for OMA’s Taipei’s Performing Arts Center! The project, started back in 2012, has generated a buzz in the architecture community for its peculiar form. Conceived as a number of theaters intersecting as a group of three simple geometries, the Performing Arts Center will provide flexible stage space to host experimental theater and art performances. This video—filmed by a drone—shows some of the preliminary structure that has already been erected. The building is expected to be completed in 2015.
ArchDaily has been asking architects "What is Architecture?" for over 6 years. It's a question that few interviewees answer without hesitation or bristling. But after asking over 200 architects, we've noticed a pattern: even though many people start very similarly, the answers soon diverge in a way that demonstrates the promise of the profession. And no matter how architecture is defined, the strong majority of architects hold an underlying belief in its ability to influence.
When the ArchDaily team visited the Venice Biennale and entered the Central Pavilion of the Giardini, home to the Elements exhibition, we saw it as a dynamic, immersive, exhaustive response to the question "What is Architecture?" Visitors to the Biennale are introduced to architecture through its elements--the pieces, parts and fundamentals that comprise built structures around the globe.
When Koolhaas chose to focus on Elements, he produced a text (in both book and exhibition format) that gives us the tools to understand what architecture is and how is it has evolved (or stagnated). Even though he didn't invite people to show projects in the traditional sense, the AD editors saw a hopeful undertone to Elements -- it is a resource that can be revisited over and over again, one that will arm the current and future designers of our built world with the knowledge they'll need to address the issues they have yet to even confront.
After the break, see images of the exhibition and read Koolhaas' curatorial statement.
In honor of Bastille Day, we've rounded up some of our favorite AD Classics built in France. From Bernard Tschumi's Parc de la Villette to our most popular classic project, Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye, take a moment to revisit these renowned works.