Rem Koolhaas & OMA – A New Paradigm to Approach Cities and Architecture
Rem Koolhaas, one of the world’s most influential authorities on urban architecture, was born in 1944 in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands. He has lived in many countries since his early childhood, which included Indonesia and the United States, and also has worked as a journalist and playwright as well.
"I want to express architecture that is invisible."
After studying architecture at Architectural Association (AA) School of Architecture in the U.K., Koolhaas established in 1974 his own architecture office, Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), to implement his theories on architecture into reality and re-create the context of urban landscapes. He has taught at Harvard since 1996, and drew attention from the architectural community with his experimental publications, such as “Delirious New York” and “S, M, L, XL.” In 2000, he received Pritzker Architecture Prize, the architectural community’s equivalent to the Nobel Prize.
Rem Koolhaas’s works include: Bordeaux House; the Los Angeles museum; the Kunsthal (a national museum in Rotterdam) and the national dance theater in Hague, both in the Netherlands; the Nexus World Housing, a multi-unit housing property, in Fukuoka, Japan; Congrexpo in Lille, in France; and the recently inaugurated public library in Seattle, U.S. He also has been commissioned recently to design the CCTV headquarters in Beijing, which once again drew attention from the world architecture community. Koolhaas has won a prize at the Incheon new town design competition, and is currently involved in the Seoul National University’s museum project.
Koolhaas contends for freedom from restraint, from structure, from typified models, from ideologies, from order, from programs, and from systems or pedigree. With these in mind, he doesn’t pursue a single direction when he designs. That explains why his works are sometimes conservative and subdued, and other times rather enigmatic.
His Avant-Garde spirit is confirmed by the fact that he has more projects in planning than those actually completed, despite his record of wining several design competitions.
Rem Koolhaas is at once an architect and a sociologist and urban planner; and as such, he analyzes social phenomena. He continuously seeks solutions to cities that are creating myriads of problems in contemporary society. He contends that we escape the illusion of cities that are controlled by modernistic order, and that we focus instead on freedom and humanism. On Koolhaas, another architect Frank Gehry once said: “He is a hope for our cities and at the same time, an architect with the biggest ideas about architecture.”
"Colorful meetings and encounters, which led to challenging inspirations, have created Leeum."
I understand you have led this project while working with two architects. What do you make of the Leeum project?
Well, I’m not sure if my “leading this project” is really appropriate or not.
But at any rate, we’ve come to the Leeum museum for this project, and we’ve been working on it based on discussion and agreement. Collaborative work, like the one we’re doing right now, is rather common in the architecture community of today. And the approach becomes more effective with smaller spaces to work with. And the design is better appreciated with greater diversity in opinions. When it comes to the Leeum project, you also need to see other things, such as realizing a larger-scale ideal, that is, making a big investment in culture. And I think that has been already realized by the sole fact that Samsung has invited various architects from around the world to build a cultural facility, because there has been no other project like this in the world before. Besides, Samsung has been actively participating in the design process, so as to work with us architects while producing ideas and designing together. All these interesting encounters that define the Leeum project have been both challenging and inspirational for us.