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Rem Koolhaas

Related: architecture - theory


Rem Koolhaas (born November 17, 1944 in Rotterdam, Netherlands) is a Dutch architect, former journalist and screenwriter who studied architecture at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. He is the principal of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, or OMA, and of its research-oriented counterpart AMO. He is also "Professor in Practice of Architecture and Urban Design" at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design.

Perhaps better known for his books than his buildings, he has authored several seminal works in architectural theory, including Delirious New York, and S,M,L,XL, a collaboration with the graphic designer Bruce Mau. Koolhaas' work emphatically embraces the contradictions of a discipline that struggles to maintain its humanist ideals of material honesty, the human scale and carefully crafted meaning in a rapidly globalising world that espouses material economy, machine scale and random meaning.

Using a canny direction of observation and diagram, Koolhaas mobilizes the omnipotent forces of urbanism into unprecedented forms and connections organised along the lines of present day society. Shopping is examined for intellectual comfort whilst the unregulated taste and densification of Chinese cities is analysed according to "performance", a critera involving variables with debatable credibility - density, newness, shape, size, money etc. Through his ruthlessly raw approach, Koolhaas hopes to extract the architect from the anxiety of a dead profession and resurrect a contemporary sublime however fleeting it may be. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rem_Koolhaas [Jan 2006]

Content (2004) - Rem Koolhaas

Content (2004) - Rem Koolhaas [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

For those used to Koolhaas' fun and games, you will enjoy pouring over his latest catalog of ideas. It has the look and feel of a thick magazine moreso than a book, packed with an astonishing range of project, op-ed pieces and cuttings from the chaotic world we live in. But, for those new to Koolhaas, you may want to check out Delirious New York or S,M,L,XL first.

This book has a sharper political content to it but the cover is little more than a hook. There are some good articles to pour over such as "Re-Learning from Las Vegas," in which Koolhaas interviews Robert Venturi and Denise Scott-Brown. The cover story seems to be "Violence against Architecture," in which Bill Millard offers "tales from the front lines of the war on the city." Koolhaas can't resist promoting himself, noting his Projects on the City, and re-exploring Lagos and Beijing. He also showcases the Seattle Public Library and some of the newest projects he has on the boards. There are his usual witty allusions such as "Miestakes" and "Big Vermeer," but for the most part this book seems to be a celebration of the urban chaos that has resulted in recent years, thanks in large part to globalization. Unfortunately, there isn't a very sharp focus. Most of the images are just eye candy and the articles don't have much weight to them. Still, you can't beat the price and there is plenty to look at. --James N. Ferguson for Amazon.com

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