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Rem Koolhaas - OMA


Rem Koolhass (1944), one of the most famous and influential contemporary architects, is the son of the well-known writer Anton (1912-1992). He spent his early youth in Indonesia and, with his father, he later joined the literary and artistic scene in Amsterdam.
Before graduating in architecture in London in 1972, he worked as a reporter and wrote film screenplays. He completed his studies under O.M. Ungers at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

In 1975, after working as a researcher at the IAUS - Institute for Architecture & Urban Studies in New York (under the direction of Peter Eisenman), he founded the OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture), stressing from the outset “the programmatic aspects of architecture, rather than the formal or strictly morphological ones” (Van Dijk).

Often close to deconstructionism “though hugely indebted to Modernism”, Rem Koolhass’s architecture is the result “of complex functional programs that do not renounce to reveal all their complexity even in their volumetric and distributional structure, making extensive use of the most innovative technology” (Treccani), which often led to eclectic and spectacular results.

“The leader of a spectacularly irreverent generation of Dutch architects, his restless mind, conceptual brilliance, and ability to make a building sing have earned him a stellar place in the firmament of contemporary design” (J. Carter Brown).
Rem Koolhass rose to fame in 1978 when he published his book Delirious New York (1978), in which he tried to theoretically explain “how a city such as New York, totally unplanned, could become the epitome of the contemporary” (Domus).
In response to these urban planning issues, the author briefly suggests “that the architectural development of Manhattan was an organic process created through a variety of cultural forces. In this way, New York and other major cities functioned as a metaphor for contemporary experience” (Enc. Britannica).

The year 1978 was also important for the architect as far as construction was concerned, since the project to enlarge the Parliament buildings in Hague (in collaboration with Zaha Hadid) paved the way for various state-sponsored projects.
Between 1981 and 1988, he worked on the urban plan for the IJ-Plein residential district in Amsterdam, with 1,375 apartments, a community center and a school.

In his project for Parc de la Villette (55 hectares north of Paris, 1982)), Rem Koolhaas demonstrates “his artistic program, based on the need to combine programmatic instability with architectural specificity”.
This was followed by projects such as the Netherlands Dance Theatre in The Hague (1987); the Nexus Housing high-density residential complex in Fukuoka, Japan (1991), consisting of 24 individual houses, each three storeys high; and the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam (1992).

In the masterplan for Lille (1988-1994), he revised the city center of the French city, from the main street to the shops and the Congress Centre (Congrexpo).
One of his most notable works is the Bordeaux house (1998), awarded Best Design of the Year by Time magazine, described by the author “as three houses, one on top of the other”, which must meet the needs of a couple, since the husband was left paralyzed after an accident.

In the project, the lower part is “cave-like, for the most intimate life of the family: the “top house” is divided into spaces for the couple and spaces for their children. Sandwiched in between is an almost invisible glass room, half inside, half outside (...), which is actually a vertically moving platform, functioning as an elevator, which allows the man access to all levels (...). One wall of the elevator is a continuous surface of shelves providing access to books for his work”.

Over the last few decades, Rem Koolhass has worked on numerous projects for large buildings, as seen in the 1996 publication S, M, L, XL, which includes all the OMA projects, with theoretical writings on urban planning issues.
In the year 2000, he won the Pritzker Prize, where he was called an architect that seems so “in tune with the future (...) a prophet of a new modern architecture”, which is why it is not surprising that the Museum of Modern Art has already had two exhibitions dedicated to his works.

The Pritzker jury considers Koolhaas’ body of work, including essays and other literature, so important that the prize citation says he is as well known for his books, plans and academic explorations as he is for his buildings.
After winning the Pritzker prize, OMA won several international projects, including the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum in Las Vegas (2001), the Casa da Música in Porto (2003); the Edouard Malingue Gallery in Hong Kong (2010); the former China Central Television Building (now CMG Headquarters) in Beijing (2012); the Prada Foundation Museum, Milan (2015); the Lille Grand Palais in Lille (2017); and the Innovationen Tower in Stockholm (2019).
Rem Koolhass selected works and projects
- New Museum (con S. Shigematsu), New York (USA), in corso
- UIC Center for the Arts, Chicago (USA), in corso
- Torre Innovationen, Stoccolma (Svezia), 2019
- Allestimento mostra “Dior: From Paris to the World” - Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas (USA), 2018
- Light installation “2020 SS Prada Man's Show”, Shangai (Cina), 2019
- Palazzo di Giustizia, Lilla (Francia), 2017 - in corso
- Post Houston, Houston (USA), 2016 - in corso
- Museo di Fondazione Prada, Milano (Italia), 2015
- Shenzhen Stock Exchange, Shenzhen (Cina), 2013
- Grattacielo - Sede CCTV (China Central Television), Pechino (Cina), 2012
- Progetto Parc des Expositions, Tolosa (Francia), 2011
- Edouard Malingue Gallery, Hong Kong, 2010
- Dee and Charles Wyly Theater, Dallas (USA), 2009
- Prada Transformer, Seul (Corea del Sud), 2008
- Serpentine Gallery Pavilion (con C. Balmond), Londra (Gran Bretagna), 2006
- Casa da Musica, Porto (Portogallo), 2005
- Leeum Museum, Seul (Corea del Sud), 2004
- Boutique Prada, New York e Los Angeles (USA), 2001-2004
- Ambasciata olandese, Berlino (Germania), 2003
- Masterplan Zollverein, Essen (Germania), 2002
- Hermitage Guggenheim, Las Vegas (USA), 2001
- Casa a Bordeaux (Francia), 1998
- Educatorium - Università di Utrecht (Olanda), 1997
- Masterlan Euralille, Lilla (Francia), 1994
- Kunsthal Museum, Rotterdam (Olanda), 1992
- Complesso residenziale Nexus, Fukuoka (Giappone), 1991
- Progetto urbanistico del quartiere residenziale IJ-Plein, Amsterdam (Olanda), 1988
- Teatro Nazionale di Danza, L’Aia (Olanda), 1987
- Progetto del Parc de la Villette, Parigi (Francia), 1982
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