Seeing architect Rem Koolhaas mobbed by photographers while receiving the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 12th Venice Architecture International Biennale in 2010, bumping into him at the British pavilion or listening to his lectures with Norman Foster and Rocco S.K. Yim seem distant memories.
Almost three years have gone and Koolhaas' name is once again linked to Venice: just a few days ago, the Board of Directors of la Biennale di Venezia, appointed Rem Koolhaas Director of the Architecture Sector, with the specific responsibility of curating the 14th International Architecture Exhibition to be held in 2014.
At the end of the meeting of the Board, President Paolo Baratta stated: "The Architecture Exhibitions of the Biennale have gradually grown in importance internationally. Rem Koolhaas, one of the most significant personalities among the architects of our time - who has based all his work on intense research, now renowned celebrity - has accepted to engage himself in yet another research and, why not, rethinking."
Koolhaas who founded OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture) in 1975 together with Elia and Zoe Zenghelis and Madeleine Vriesendorp while working in non-architectural disciplines including politics, publishing, media, fashion and sociology, through his think tank and research unit, AMO, stated in a press release: "We want to take a fresh look at the fundamental elements of architecture - used by any architect, anywhere, anytime - to see if we can discover something new about architecture."
OMA is currently busy with the construction of new buildings including the Taipei Performing Arts Centre; a new headquarters for G-star in Amsterdam, the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, De Rotterdam, a mixed-use building on the river Maas and Garage Gorky Park in Moscow.
The big news about next year's Biennale is that it will take place at the Giardini and Arsenale venues for a longer period of time, from 7th June to 23th November 2014, a perfectly logical idea if you think it takes months to digest all the featured projects.
Yet there may be something even more interesting in store for us: Koolhaas has a multidisciplinary approach to his works and this will definitely be reflected in the final projects selected and in the people invited to participate (Koolhaas often stated in interviews that he sees himself not as an architectural intellectual but as a public intellectual capable of contributing in domains that go beyond architecture).
Another point to make is that since there are strong connections between Prada and the Biennale and Koolhaas and Prada, and AMO has consulted for Conde Nast magazines, there will definitely be a fashion link of some kind. Journalism has always been a very important driving factor in Koolhaas' architecture, so, hopefully, there will also be emphasis on this discipline.
Last year's 13th International Architecture Exhibition, directed by David Chipperfield and entitled Common Ground, attracted 178,000 visitors (an increase of 4.7% compared to the 2010 edition). With Koolhaas announced as its director, you can expect numbers to double up and maybe an even more fashionable, trendy and hip crowd of visitors than at the art biennale (though, to be really frank, we could definitely do without them...).Member of the Boxxet Network of Blogs, Videos and Photos
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