Rem Koolhaas: ‘In all my buildings, I’m trying to escape’

Rem Koolhaas: ‘In all my buildings, I’m trying to escape’ - Arts and Culture - News

Title: Rem Koolhaas: The Architect Escape Artist – A Conversation with the Pritzker Prize Laureate on Libraries, Qatar, and His Unconventional Approach to Design

Rem Koolhaas, the Pritzker Prize-winning architect behind iconic buildings such as the CCTV Headquarters in Beijing and De Rotterdam in his native Netherlands, is renowned for his aversion to being trapped within the confines of his own creations. This fear has influenced his designs, pushing him to create open and spacious interiors that contrast with his modern exteriors. While libraries might not seem an obvious fit for Koolhaas’ minimalist aesthetic, his works in this domain have proven otherwise, including the Seattle Public Library and Qatar National Library.

In an exclusive interview with CNN, Rem Koolhaas shared his insights on designing libraries, his long-lasting relationship with Qatar, and his thoughts on the future of architecture.

Building Bridges in Qatar:
Qatar, a country located on the Arabian peninsula with approximately three million residents (the majority being expats), has seen multiple collaborations between Koolhaas and its people. One of his earliest missed opportunities came in the late 1990s when Japanese architect Arata Isozaki asked Koolhaas to design a bungalow for a horse. Although initially hesitant, Koolhaas now believes that this could have been a significant project for him.

Despite his earlier reservations, Koolhaas does not advocate for tall structures as the only solution to place-making. Airports, museums, and libraries are alternative ways to establish a destination’s identity. OMA, the international architectural firm founded by Koolhaas, has left its mark on various countries, including China, Colombia, and Saudi Arabia, contributing to their narratives as they emerge on the global stage.

Embracing Change:
The ever-evolving landscape of architecture is something that Koolhaas has pondered in recent years, particularly through the exhibition “Countryside: The Future” at the Guggenheim Museum in New York (2020). This show highlighted the transformation of the countryside into a space for urbanization, with data storage and fulfillment centers emerging as essential components of modern cities.

The City Reimagined:
According to Koolhaas, the future of architecture may involve less heterogeneous skylines and a more equitable distribution between urban and rural areas. With sustainability and climate change at the forefront of societal concerns, he envisions a period where cities adopt more responsible designs.

A Life Dedicated to Architecture:
As an accomplished architect, philosopher, and former journalist, Rem Koolhaas continues to leave his mark on the world of design. His “double life” as both an architect and a writer provides him with the unique opportunity to express his thoughts and ideas beyond the scope of his projects.

The Future of Architecture:
Despite the demands of the industry, Koolhaas remains committed to his ideals and continues to push boundaries in architecture. As he looks towards the future, Koolhaas sees a need for architects who can balance pragmatism with innovation and adapt to the changing world.

In Qatar, OMA is currently working on the upcoming Qatar Auto Museum, which represents another symbol of a petrostate transitioning towards a knowledge economy. The 30,000 square meter museum will showcase the usual clean lines, playful irreverence, and local influences that characterize Koolhaas’ designs.

Looking for an exit? Not from here. Rem Koolhaas continues to shape the future of architecture, one innovative design at a time.