Page N3.2 . 20 August 2003                     
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    Rem Koolhaas Praemium Imperiale

    continued

    The Praemium Imperiale announcement describes Koolhaas as "redefining function and structure in striking ways." They cite, for instance, his 1996 "Educatorium," or factory of learning, at the University of Utrecht. Instead of a conventional classroom building, he made a "curving, ribbon-like, folded concrete ramp that also serves as a continuous, central circulation system, rising through glass-walled, daylit areas of constantly changing color and material. The spaces serve the required educational needs, and are used as a lively student center."

    Another OMA work, Rotterdam's Kunsthal (1992) provides museum exhibition space, a restaurant, and auditoriums. The building was conceived as a square crossed by two routes: a road and a public ramp. These crossings divide the square into four parts, and the museum design evolved as a sequence of experiences in a continuous circulation circuit.

    OMA's Bordeaux house, named as "Best Design of 1998" by Time magazine, was built for a couple after the husband began using a wheelchair. In the vertically organized house, the lowest level is a series of caverns carved into the hill for private family life. The highest level is divided into spaces for the couple and for their children. In between is an almost invisible glass living room that meets the grade on one side. A vertically moving platform gives the man access to all levels and to a continuous surface of bookshelves.

    Nexus Housing (1991) in Fukuoka, Japan, is a project consisting of 24 three-story houses, each penetrated by a private vertical courtyard bringing light into the center. From the ground level concourse, a continuous stair leads to individual rooms on the second floor and living quarters on the third. The various floors display contrasts of closed and open, public and private.

    The Netherlands Dance Theater (1987) in The Hague was one of the first completed projects to garner critical acclaim for OMA. A foyer shared with an adjacent concert hall consists of three levels: the lowest slotted beneath the auditorium tiers, above it a half-moon balcony, and at the top, a "floating skybar."

    OMA is currently engaged in its largest project ever the new headquarters for Central Chinese Television (CCTV) in Beijing to be completed in 2008. The six-million-square-foot (553,000-square-meter) headquarters will be among the first of 300 towers to be constructed in Beijing's new central business district. The tower is a continuous loop of horizontal and vertical sections that are said to express the forces traveling throughout the structure.

    The four other 2003 Praemium Imperiale Laureates are British painter Bridget Riley, Italian sculptor Mario Merz, Italian conductor Claudio Abbado, and British filmmaker Ken Loach. The Japan Art Association created the Praemium Imperiale in 1989 to honor lifetime achievement in the arts. Previous architect-laureates include I.M. Pei and Frank Gehry.

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    Kunsthal (1992) is a museum in Rotterdam by Rem Koolhaas, winner of this year's Praemium Imperiale.
    Photo: OMA

    ArchWeek Image

    House in Bordeaux.
    Photo: OMA

    ArchWeek Image

    Nexus World Housing (1991) in Fukuoka, Japan.
    Photo: OMA

    ArchWeek Image

    Netherlands Dance Theater in the Hague has a three-tiered foyer.
    Photo: The Sankei Shimbun/ The Japan Art Association

    ArchWeek Image

    The Headquarters of Central Chinese Television(CCTV) in Beijing, scheduled for completion in 2008.
    Image: OMA

     

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