Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas believes that every architectural element is affected by society and changes in society, and that "architectural elements are not necessarily stable; they change, almost as part of fashion"
At Hong Kong's Business of Design Week (BODW) late last year, eminent Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas — hailed as one of the world's 100 Most Influential People by Time magazine in 2008 — took part in a plenary session titled 'Living Design'. Here, he shared his thoughts on how architecture relates to everyday life: "Every architectural element is affected by society and changes in society. Architectural elements are not necessarily stable; they change, almost as part of fashion," Koolhaas said.
Koolhaas, who founded OMA in 1975 together with Elia and Zoe Zenghelis, and Madelon Vriesendorp, has won several international awards including the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2000, the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2010 Venice Biennale, the RIBA Charles Jencks Award in 2012, and the Johannes Vermeer Prijs in 2013. During his lecture at BODW 2014, he talked about OMA's Taipei Performing Arts Centre in Taiwan, which is due for completion this year. Unlike most performing arts centres, which have separate auditoriums independent of each other, the Taipei Performing Arts Centre (TPAC) has three theatres consolidated in a single block (as featured in Perspective magazine, September 2013).
Koolhaas explained that this way, each theatre can be used independently or can benefit from each other through the combination of the three stages into a colossal mega stage and the sharing technologies. "Architecture has a good side and a bad side: the good side is enabling things, the bad side is limiting things," he said.
This, in fact, was one of the challenges OMA set for itself in designing TPAC: overcoming architecture's inevitability of imposing limits on what is possible. "In our own works, we should pursue what enables us and keep what limits us to a minimum. We should try to find combinations that offer elements that create more possibilities than the clients can realise."
This is a preview of the “Architecture in flux" article from the April 2015 issue of Perspective magazine.
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