Master mind, Rem Koolhaas, is obsessed with research. At his exhibit currently showing at the Architectural Assocation School of Architecture in London, hundreds of pages of paper filed with research, theories and sketches rest on a plinth in the middle of the room. Those pages compile an astonishing 400 volumes bound in black folders and contain the story of each one of OMA’s complete works from the past 40 years. So, Koolhaas, prolific writer or awesome architect? We’re going to go with a little bit of both…
As Justin McGurick shares, it is not uncommon for architects to use writing as their tools, a way to “not just to publicise their work but to lay down the latest architectural rules.” But, for anyone who has read Koolhaas’ books, we understand that his works are quite different. Rather than a manifesto, the pages that fill Koolhaas’ books provide the opportunity to understand how his mind functions. Sure, one could argue, especially after physically lifting the 1,300 pages of his S,M,L,XL, that the ‘bigness’ is just for the effect. Yet, the pages show not only his research, but, more importantly, how his mind operates far past the architectural level, and on to issues concerning politics, media, sociology, technology, fashion, etc.
Much of Koolhaas’ work takes existing conditions and reorganizes the data. Take, for instance , OMA’s 2050 Roadmap project, previously featured on AD, when his firm work intently on “the production of a graphic narrative which conceptualizes and visualizes the geographic, political, and cultural implications of the integrated, decarbonized European power sector.”
Or even Koolhaas’ consultancy for Wired Magazine, which resulted in the design of the inventory of all the words published in the magazine.
Koolhaas truly uses the book as an investigative tool to reach beyond architecture. Yet, “the paradox at the heart of Koolhaas’ obsession with the book as a format is that he reveres it and disrespects it in equal measure,” explained McGuirk. What conventionally takes months to build a solid text, OMA is rumored to produce in one day. Perhaps, that is because the books are more of a “residual of a process”, for, after the months of doing the research and thinking, Koolhaas quickly slaps the information together.
“Nothing is ever wasted, and in that sense there is no such thing as failure. If the research doesn’t turn into a building, there’s always the book.”
Source: The Guardian