Thursday, September 1, 2011

Dutch Profiles: Rem Koolhaas Architects - Taipei performing Arts Centre

The iconic buildings of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, OMA, and its core principles as embodied by Rem Koolhaas, have gained worldwide attention since its foundation in 1975. The philosophy and aesthetic developed for competition submissions for and the Centre for Art and Mediatechnology in Karlsruhe, La Villette, the Jussieu campus and the Très Grande Biblioteque in Paris, garnered frenzied international attention and were finally realised in De Kunsthal in Rotterdam.

Rem Koolhaas intensive conceptual thinking about architecture and social circumstances ran simultaneously from the very early stages of his career. With a background in journalism and scriptwriting - his curiosity, research and urge to analyse are basics of his and OMAs working process. It is this approach that makes him a highly debated thinker and architect - although he staunchly refutes the label Starchitect. This image, he feels, blinds the public to a clear view of what his and OMAs work is really about.

Casa da Musica in Porto provides a valuable steppingstone for one of OMAs latest commissioned projects, the Taipei Performing Arts Centre. Treatment of form, innovative techniques, and the celebration of context are key elements of the design. Rather than relocating the roaring Shilin night market from the site of the forthcoming Taipei centre, OMA will instead build its 3 theatres above the market.

The vibrant, dynamic culture of the East forms a crucial element in Koolhaas pre-occupation with Asia. As a child he lived in Indonesia for several years. This experience is central to his current fascination with the region and its architecture. Koolhaas seminal 1978 book Delirious New York, a Retroactive Manifesto, explores the Culture of Congestion in the big city. Nowadays, his focus is shifting to the wider consequences of the rapid growth of mega-cities.

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