Talking Practice: Reinier de Graaf

Photo of Reinier de Graaf

In this episode, Talking Practice host Grace La interviews Reinier de Graaf, the longest non-founding partner at the Office of Metropolitan Architects and co-founder of AMO, the think tank of OMA. He describes in detail the role of AMO and its relationship with OMA, the desire for architecture to be an intellectual pursuit, and the method of approaching projects as conceptual vehicles. Illuminating the bottom-up hierarchy of OMA’s design process, de Graaf shares his thoughts on its studio culture and lack of a “signature” style.

Four Walls and a Roof by Reinier de GraafAs both a designer and academic, de Graaf’s work spans multiple mediums. In this episode, he discusses his newest book, Four Walls and a Roof: The Complex Nature of a Simple Profession and the option studio he taught at the GSD, “Phantom Urbanism.”

De Graaf presents the facet of practice that engages with architectural discourse. Stating that he is a “product of the mainstream,” de Graaf argues for the necessity of architecture to become self-aware of its external forces in order to work more towards the contextual. For more information about de Graaf’s thoughts on architecture and urbanism, check out his 2018 lecture on “Phantom Urbanism.”

Photo of Renier de GraafReinier de Graaf  (1964, Schiedam, the Netherlands) is a Dutch architect, architectural theorist, urbanist and writer. He is a partner in the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), where he leads projects in Europe, Russia and the Middle East. De Graaf is co-founder of OMA’s think tank AMO, has taught and lectured at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and is currently Sir Arthur Marshall Visiting Professor of Urban Design at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of the book Four Walls and a Roof: The Complex Nature of a Simple Profession, named best books of 2017 by both the Financial Times and the Guardian.

About the Show

Developed by Harvard Graduate School of Design, Talking Practice is the first podcast series to feature in-depth interviews with leading designers on the ways in which architects, landscape architects, designers, and planners articulate design imagination through practice. Hosted by Grace La, Professor of Architecture and Chair of Practice Platform, these dynamic conversations provide a rare glimpse into the work, experiences, and attitudes of design practitioners from around the world. Comprehensive, thought-provoking, and timely, Talking Practice tells the story of what designers do, why, and how they do it—exploring the key issues at stake in practice today.

About the Host

Grace LaGrace La is Professor of Architecture, Chair of the Practice Platform, and former Director of the Master of Architecture Programs at Harvard University Graduate School of Design.  She is also Principal of LA DALLMAN Architects, internationally recognized for the integration of architecture, engineering and landscape. Cofounded with James Dallman, LA DALLMAN is engaged in catalytic projects of diverse scale and type.  The practice is noted for works that expand the architect’s agency in the civic recalibration of infrastructure, public space and challenging sites.

Show Credits

Talking Practice is produced by Ronee Saroff and edited by Maggie Janik. Our Research Assistant is Julia Roberts. Practice Platform Support is provided by Jihyun Ro. The show is recorded at Harvard University’s Media Production Center by Multimedia Engineer Jeffrey Valade.


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