Rem Koolhaas: From Urban Journalist to Global Starchitect: A Three-Part Course with Bert de Muynck

Rem Koolhaas: From Urban Journalist to Global Starchitect: A Three-Part Course with Bert de Muynck


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The Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas from OMA (Office of Metropolitan Architecture) is one of today's world's leading architects and has reflected upon the state of the contemporary cities since the mid-1970s. Delving into his prolific writings and publications on the city, this course explains the theories and motives underlying his books such as "Delirious New York" (1978), "S, M, L, XL" (1995) and his recent "Countryside, The Future" (2020) at New York's Guggenheim museum.

Contemporary architects do not only build buildings but through an analysis of the modern city also create an intellectual and cultural context for their architectural interventions. The Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas (architect of Seattle's Public Library, Beijing's CCTV Building and Porto's Casa da Musica) has developed an analytical template throughout his 50-year career, touching upon the history of the skyscraper, the culture of congestion, the notion of the neo-liberal generic city of the mid-1990s and more recently gazing upon the world's countryside.

This three-part course will study the architect's prolific publications during the past decades, from New York, moving towards Rotterdam, Paris, Singapore, Atlanta, Lagos, Brussels, and Beijing. An acclaimed writer, Rem Koolhaas has kept his finger on the pulse of the state of the city at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries. These three lectures are both an introduction and deep-dive into a professional's analysis of the contemporary city (and his recent strange focus on its opposite, the countryside). This course will create a context for his oftentimes radical architectural interventions and proposals.

Led by an expert on architecture, Bert de Muynck, this interactive course will explore the writings and analysis of Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with increased knowledge of culture, cities, and architecture through the writings of one of the world's most acclaimed architects.

 

Lecture 1: The Culture of Congestion

This lecture places Rem Koolhaas’ seminal book on New York’s culture of congestion in the context of the architect’s early career. In “Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan” (1978, The Monacelli Press) Rem Koolhaas discusses the origins of the skyscraper in the context of the cultural and urban growth of New York. Its lessons and conclusions will inform some of the architect’s office OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture) throughout the 1980s, such as his urban proposals for Parc de La Villette (1982, Paris, France) and Euralille (1989, Lille, France).

Lecture 2: The Generic City

At the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s, Rem Koolhaas had the ambition to write a book dealing with “The Contemporary City.” Drawing examples from Atlanta, Singapore and Tokyo, his findings make their way into the architect’s 1995 publication, together with Bruce Mau, “S, M, L, XL” (1995, The Monacelli Press), which includes the contextualization of the work of his Office for Metropolitan Architecture has done two decades prior. This lecture will delve into his writings, the emergence of the global city while highlighting built work such The Kunsthal (1992, Rotterdam, The Netherlands), Casa da Musica (2005, Porto, Portugal) and Seattle Central Library (2005, Seattle, USA)

Lecture 3: The End of the City and the Future of the Countryside

From the mid-2000s onwards, Rem Koolhaas profiled himself as a globetrotting starchitect. This lecture looks at the high-profile commissions for the European Union (2001-2016), the Chinese Communist Television Tower (2010, Beijing, China), and Qatar National Library (2018, Qatar, UAE). With these buildings in his portfolio, the architect became part of a neoliberal elite of architects aspiring to create architectural identity in diverse cities around the world. Shifting his focus in the mid-2010s to the study of the countryside, this lecture ends with Rem Koolhaas’ “Countryside. A report”-publication (2020, Taschen) and exhibition at the Guggenheim museum in New York, in 2020.

Bert is an architect and writer and holds MAs in architectural engineering (Catholic University Leuven, Belgium) and cultural sciences (Free University Brussels). Born in Belgium, in the past decade he has lived and worked in architectural consultancy, writing, and academia in Amsterdam, Beijing, Shanghai, and now Lisbon, where he relocated in 2018. He is the co-director of "MovingCities", an independent research organization investigating the role that architecture and urbanism play in shaping the contemporary city. Bert lived in China from 2006 to 2018, where he held academic positions at The University of Hong Kong (2011-14), China Academy of Art (2013-16), and Xian Liverpool University (2015-18). He has been a Context expert since 2013 (Shanghai and Lisbon) focusing on architectural and urban history and development. He is a prolific writer and public speaker in the field of architecture, urbanism, and culture.

 

How does it work?

This is a three-part series held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.

Is there a reading list in advance?

Though the course is open to participants with no background in architecture and urban planning, there are suggested readings for further investigation. You will receive this soon after course registration.

How long are the lectures?

Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.

How much is the course?

The course is $105 for three lectures.

Is a recording available?

In general, our courses are not recorded. However, if you need to miss a lecture please let us know in advance and we can arrange for a recording for that session on an individual basis.

This course is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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