the world's most visited architecture website

Spotlight: Rem Koolhaas

The celebrated architect Remment (Rem) Koolhaas, the 2000 Pritzker Prize laureate and curator of the 2014 Venice Biennale, began his architectural education at the Architectural Association in London in 1968, eventually founding OMA (Office of Metropolitan Architecture) with one of his former professors, Elia Zenghelis (along with Zoe Zenghelis and Madelon Vriesendorp).

Despite OMA's current ubiquity, the firm's beginnings in 1975 were fairly modest. The commission of the high-profile Euralille project in 1989 was a turning point; the firm then began to move away from small scale projects (such as the Villa dall'Ava) to the large scale works that they're known for today. Koolhaas' firm is now known almost exclusively for large-scale works, such as the CCTV Headquarters (named the "Best Tall Building in the World" in 2013) and the Seattle Library (which is widely regarded as one of the most important buildings of the 21st century). 

Help Us Honor Rem Koolhaas On His 70th Birthday

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. 

In Progress: Stadskantoor / OMA

  • Architects: OMA
  • Location: Meent 119, 3011 JH Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  • Partners In Charge: Rem Koolhaas, Reinier de Graaf
  • Associate: Alex de Jong
  • Project Team: Philippe Braun, Clarisa Garcia Fresco, Maaike Hawinkels, Andrew Linn, Takeshi Murakuni, Peter Rieff, Tom Tang, Sakine Dicle Uzanyayla, Mark Veldman
  • Interior Team: Saskia Simon, Andrea Giannotti, Ross O'Connell, Mafalda Rangel, Lucia Zamponi, Grisha Zotov
  • Area: 43370.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2015
  • Photographs: Ossip van Duivenbode, Courtesy of OMA

© Ossip van Duivenbode © Ossip van Duivenbode © Ossip van Duivenbode Facade Collage from North. Image Courtesy of OMA

Why China's President Says "No More Weird Buildings"

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.

Video: Rem Koolhaas Answers Questions From Fans as Part of 'REM' Kickstarter

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

Rem Koolhaas: How the Age of the Decision Maker Impacts Building Design

How does contemporary architecture differ around the world and what causes these differences? In this video of a discussion between Rem Koolhaas and Nest C.E.O Tony Fadell at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit, Koolhaas gives some interesting insights into his experience with decision-makers around the world. Watch the video above and read Vanity Fair’s full article here to learn more about this seldom-considered factor in building design. 

Rem’s Kit of Parts: Exhaustive and Exhausting, Mad and Maddening

In “Elements,” an exhibition and accompanying book for the 2014 Venice Architecture BiennaleRem Koolhaas seeks to explore the omnipresent components of buildings that have never been intentionally articulated by architectural theory. Breaking down the history of architecture into its fundamental components, the text is divided into 15 volumes and functions as “a technophilic treatise on the state of architectural thinking in the twenty-first century.” Despite providing lessons in architectural history, does the book deliver a compelling synthesis of all its parts? In his full review of the book for Metropolis Magazine, Samuel Medina argues that Koolhaas "fails to unpack the language of his argument," resulting in a book that is "ambitious, overreaching, maddening" - much like the exhibition itself. Read the full review here.

Rem Koolhaas and the New Frontline of Transformation

When you abandon the countryside in favour of the city, what do you leave behind? In a recent essay for Icon Magazine, OMA co-founder Rem Koolhaas deliberates on the intersection between the two, arguing that "our current obsession with only the city is highly irresponsible because you cannot understand the city without understanding the countryside."

AR Issues: A Biennale for Critical Times

Courtesy of The Architectural Review
Courtesy of The Architectural Review

ArchDaily is continuing our partnership with The Architectural Review, bringing you short introductions to the themes of the magazine's monthly editions. In this post, we take you back to AR's July 2014 issue, which focused on this year's Venice Biennale. In her introduction, AR Editor Catherine Slessor argues that while previous Biennales have been hopelessly out of touch, this year Rem Koolhaas has initiated a critical conversation at a crucial moment in time.

In its giddy, self-referential way, the Venice Architecture Biennale always seems blissfully detached from the real world. Set in the preposterous, decaying stage set that is modern Venice, the press vernissage is a frenzied bacchanal, as the global cognoscenti descend like locusts on a fragile urban eco-system already bludgeoned by battalions of tourists and hulking cruise ships.

Design With Empathy: An Exhibit Honoring Maggie's Architecture of Cancer Care

Organized by the New York School of Interior Design, and curated for CMOA by Raymund Ryan, curator of architecture, Carnegie Museum of Art is hosting a new exhibit: Maggie's Centres: A Blueprint for Cancer Care. Opening September 13, the exhibit showcases the extraordinary Maggie's Centres, works of integrated architecture designed to address essential human needs and the everyday challenges of cancer patients undergoing treatment. The work of Frank Gehry, Piers Gough, Steven Holl, Rem Koolhaas, and Richard Rogers have been selected to be included in the exhibition, and provide insight into how some of the most influential architects of our age have sought to positively alter the look, and more significantly, the feel, of healthcare facilities.

David Page, Page\Page Architects - Maggie's Highlands, 2005; Landscape - Charles Jencks. Image Courtesy of Carnegie Museum of Art Piers Gough, CZWG Architects - Maggie's Rotterdam, 2011. Image Courtesy of Carnegie Museum of Art Frank Gehry, Gehry Partners, LLP - Maggie's Dundee, 2003. Image Courtesy of Carnegie Museum of Art Frank Gehry, Gehry Partners, LLP - Maggie's Hong Kong, 2013. Image Courtesy of Carnegie Museum of Art

ArchDaily's Most Useful Articles of All Time

As summer draws to an end and we enter into the last quarter of 2014, we decided to round-up a selection of the most useful articles we've published over the past three years. Ranging from The 40 Architecture Documentaries to Watch in 2014 to The 10 Most Overlooked Women in Architectural History, we've also brought together app guides, career tips, and city guides. Alongside links to open-source CAD files and cut-out people, we've also featured book recommendations, study tips, and links to our complete coverage of some of the world's major architectural events and prizes. Delve into our collection and discover what our readers have found most useful!

Beyond Starchitects: An Architectural Revolution at the 2014 Venice Biennale

"The Biennale reveals that modernism was never a style. It was a cultural, political, and social practice," says Sarah Williams Goldhagen in her recent article for New Republic, The Great Architect Rebellion of 2014. This year, the Venice Biennale dissects the notion of modernism by providing a hefty cross-section of architectural history in the central pavilion. However contrary to Koolhaas' prescriptive brief, the 65 national pavilions show modernism was not just a movement, but a socially-driven, culturally attuned reaction to the "exigencies of life in a rapidly changing and developing world." Unexpected moments define the 2014 Venice Biennale: from Niemeyer's desire to launch Brazil into the first world through architectural creation, to South Korea's unveiling of a deep modernist tradition with influence across the nation. This Biennale proved to be truly rebellious - read Goldhagen's article from New Republic here to find out why. 

OMA's Taipei Performing Arts Center (TPAC) Tops Out

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

Courtesy of OMA; Photography by Philippe Ruault Courtesy of OMA; Photography by Philippe Ruault Courtesy of OMA; Photography by Philippe Ruault © OMA

The Berlage Archive: Elia Zenghelis (2009)

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

Rem Koolhaas Sheds Light on Lagos

In this interview conducted by the Brigtje van der Haak maker of the documentary Lagos Wide & Close, Rem Koolhaas discusses his research on the urbanization of Nigeria's largest city, Lagos. While this research is as yet unpublished, Koolhaas discusses external influences on the city’s architecture, how his visits have affected his view of the profession, and Lagos’ future potential. The documentary by van der Haak, released on DVD in 2004, is an interactive exploration of Lagos from a multitude of scales. Now, it has been adapted for the web, and can be viewed in its entirety here!

Drawings from Famous Architects' Formative Stages to be Exhibited in St. Louis

Zaha Hadid, The World (89 Degrees), 1984. Image Courtesy of Kemper Art Museum
Zaha Hadid, The World (89 Degrees), 1984. Image Courtesy of Kemper Art Museum

As a student of architecture, the formative years of study are a period of wild experimentation, bizarre use of materials, and most importantly, a time to make mistakes. Work from this period in the life of an architect rarely floats to the surface - unless you're Zaha Hadid or Frank Gehry, that is. A treasure trove of early architectural drawings from the world's leading architects has recently been unearthed from the private collection of former Architectural Association Chairman Alvin Boyarsky. The collection is slated to be shown at the Kemper Art Museum, Washington University, St. Louis, as a part of the exhibition Drawing Ambience: Alvin Boyarsky and the Architectural Association from September 12th to January 4th, 2015. 

Take a look at the complete set of architects and drawings for the exhibition after the break.

Bernard Tschumi, #4 K Series, 1985. Study for La Case Vide: La Villette, Folio VIII, 1985. Image Courtesy of Kemper Art Museum Lebbeus Woods, Center for New Technology, Montage 1, 1985. Image Courtesy of Kemper Art Museum Alex Wall, Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), The Pleasure of Architecture, 1983. Image Courtesy of Kemper Art Museum Coop Himmelblau, Super Spaces, c. 1969. Image Courtesy of Kemper Art Museum

34 Football Fields of Museums: Rem Koolhaas Talks at the Galeries Lafayette

"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."

Infographic: What Do European Architects Actually Do?

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.