September 8, 2014–October 19, 2014
Elements of Architecture is a 15-volume publication released in 2014 as part of the 14th International Architecture Exhibition: Fundamentals, held in Venice, Italy. Informally referred to as the “Venice Architecture Biennale,” this year’s gathering of exhibitions, events, and publications was curated by Rem Koolhaas, a founding partner at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) and Professor in Practice of Architecture and Urban Design at the Harvard GSD.
The publication and exhibition are the result of a two-year collaboration between OMA, its research arm AMO, the book designer Irma Boom, and the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD). In Fall 2012, and again in Fall 2013, two groups of students enrolled in the Studio Abroad program convened at OMA’s Rotterdam office where they worked with AMO editors to formulate, research, and write the initial drafts of the books. Work with the school continued through independent studies and internships until the final product was realized—15 books, totaling almost 2,400 pages on the subject of a particular selection of critical architectural elements.
Each volume is a dense exploration of floors, walls, ceilings, roofs, doors, windows, façades, balconies, corridors, fireplaces, toilets, stairs, escalators, elevators, and ramps—what Koolhaas describes as the “inevitable elements of all architecture.” Buildings all over the world and throughout time are comprised of these elements. Every book is given a respective room inside the Central Pavilion on the Biennale grounds as part of the curated AMO exhibit that portrays selections and artifacts from each of the elements. The images, texts, interviews, and essays found within the books, expound upon the beginnings, critical points of transformation, and apotheoses of each element. Displayed here is a spread from each book illustrating one of these pivotal moments.
The intention of the collection is not to provide an exhaustive architectural history, but rather to present a critical parsing that has implications extending beyond the physical boundary of each element. In isolation, each element takes on new political, social, and economic relevance, which reinvigorate their architectural potential, both as the individual elements, as well as in their aggregation into “architecture.”
Elements Of Architecture
Editor In Chief
Manfredo Di Robilant
Alejandro Zaera Polo
Tiffany Maria Obser
Graduate School Of Design
Tiffany Maria Obser
See Jia Ho
Video: Studio Abroad with Rem Koolhaas in Rotterdam, Part I
News: "GSD at the 2014 Venice Biennale"
Blog: "Dispatch from the Venice Biennale: From 'Fundamentals' comes the human scale"