OMA Rem Koolhaas: Living, Vivre, Leben

fac_pub_koolhaas_livingPatiovilla / Rotterdam (1988)
Villa Dall’Ava / Paris (1991)
Nexus Housing / Fukuoka (1991)
Dutch House / Netherlands (1993)
Maison à Bordeaux (1998)

The completion of Rem Koolhaas’ latest house provides an occasion to take a look at the architect’s “Small” projects. Small is one of the four size categories used to organize building projects in Rem Koolhaas and Bruce Mau’s outstanding book, S, M, L, XL.

Living, the exhibition and publication by arc en rêve center d’architecture, spotlights five projects four houses built in the Netherlands and France between 1988 and 1998 and the housing project in Japan in 1991, which comprises 24 individual homes and gives a comparative reading of them.

Koolhaas is paradoxically better known for his Extra Large urban schemes such as Melun-Sénart Euralille or the more recent Seoul projects, and his Large building plans such as the Paris Bibliothèque de France, Ferry Terminal in Zeebrugge, ZKM in Karlsruhe and Lille Grand Palais.  Yet the theme of the house participates in OMA’s meditation on the contemporary city. Houses may even work as a small-scale laboratory, a site for experimenting with the most intimate aspects of living space.  All of these houses were born out of a meeting between their future occupants and the architect who designed them; each of these singular encounters is evoked in this book.

Bearing in mind the housing experiments initiated by the great modern architects of the pre-war period, Rem Koolhaas never ceases to extend the bounds of creation and invention and to open up new horizons through his remarkable work on context, typology, materials and construction. Extreme freedom is the common denominator of the four European houses and 24 Japanese homes. Openings, transparency, translucency and opacity make the interior spaces utterly permeable to variations in light and weather.

Through the spatial quality and layout, these houses express subtle contradictions between brutality and sensuality, heaviness and lightness.

–Michel Jacques

Birkhäuser Verlag, 1999