Jencks Award 2012 – Rem Koolhaas

Jencks Award 2012, Winner, Rem Koolhaas Prize, UK Architecture, RIBA, News

Jencks Award 2012

Rem Koolhaas wins Royal Institute of British Architects Jencks Award

20 Nov 2012

Jencks Award 2012

Rem Koolhaas to receive 2012 Jencks Award

Tuesday 20 November 2012, 18.30, RIBA – Public lecture by Rem Koolhaas chaired by Charles Jencks, and presentation of award

The RIBA is pleased to announce that Rem Koolhaas is to receive the 2012 Jencks Award. The Jencks Award is given annually to an individual (or practice) that has recently made a major contribution internationally to both the theory and practice of architecture. The award will be presented to Rem Koolhaas on Tuesday 20 November at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in London, where he will give a public lecture chaired by Charles Jencks.

Casa da Música
photo : Phillipe Ruault

Through his research and experimentation as well as his built projects and literature, Rem Koolhaas consciously works to deepen and expand the intrinsic connection between architecture and contemporary culture. All of his projects examine ways that architecture can engage with the contemporary city and the cultural context in which it operates. Rem Koolhaas founded OMA (Office of Metropolitan Architecture) in Rotterdam in 1975 with Elia and Zoe Zenghelis and Madelon Vriesendorp, as a collaborative office practicing architecture and urbanism. He graduated from the Architectural Association in London and in 1978 published Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan. In 1995, his book S,M,L,XL summarized the work of OMA in “a novel about architecture”. He heads the work of both OMA and AMO (Architecture Media Organisation), the research branch of OMA, operating in areas beyond the realm of architecture such as media, politics, renewable energy and fashion. In 2005 he co-founded Volume Magazine, a quarterly magazine on architecture and design.

Central China TV Tower
picture from architect

Rem Koolhaas’ built works include the master plan for the Eurolille, a convention centre in Lille; a dance theatre in the Hague, the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam, the IIT student center in Chicago, the Dutch embassy in Berlin, the Seattle Public Library; Casa da Musica in Portugal, the Central China Television (CCTV) headquarters in Beijing, Maggie’s Centre in Glasgow and New Court, the new Rothschilds Bank in London. Both of the new UK buildings are on the 2012 RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist.

Koolhaas has won several international awards including the RIBA Royal Gold Medal, the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2000 and the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2010 Venice Biennale. A former journalist and screenwriter, Rem Koolhaas was a Harkness fellow with O. M. Ungers at Cornell University. He has taught at the University of California at Los Angeles, Columbia University, and the Architectural Association and has been a visiting design critic and juror at universities worldwide. Koolhaas is a professor at Harvard University where he conducts the Project on the City.

Charles Jencks commented on Rem Koolhaas receiving the award: “Rem Koolhaas, more than any other architect of his generation, has built a parallel life between the theory and practice of architecture. This double commitment was explicitly marked in 1999 as his twin studios, OMA and AMO, the Office of Metropolitan Architecture and the Architecture Media Organisation. The former treats practical building, while the latter concentrates on cultural issues that arise with architecture. As he mentioned, “the separation of these Siamese twins enables us to liberate architectural thinking from architectural practice.” … Whatever the diagram, idea or formal invention, the theoretical part of Koolhaas keeps the constructive part on edge – vital, fascinating, maddening.”

Singapore Tower
image from Rem Koolhaas

Previous recipients of the prestigious Jencks Award include Eric Owen Moss, Zaha Hadid, Foreign Office Architects, Peter Eisenman, Cecil Balmond, UNStudio, Wolf D. Prix & Coop Himmelb(l)au, Charles Correa and Steven Holl.

Jencks Award : main page with current winner news

Rem Koolhaas

Citation on Rem Koolhaas by Charles Jencks

Rem Koolhaas, more than any other architect of his generation, has built a parallel life between the theory and practice of architecture. This double commitment was explicitly marked in 1999 as his twin studios, OMA and AMO, the Office of Metropolitan Architecture and the Architecture Media Organisation. The former treats practical building, while the latter concentrates on cultural issues that arise with architecture. As he mentioned, “the separation of these Siamese twins enables us to liberate architectural thinking from architectural practice.”

Starting in 1960s Holland as a scriptwriter of films and as a journalist, Koolhaas has continued to predict some unlikely trends. Such prophecies often dramatise social conditions that escape mainstream architects, and with a vision that galvanises both the profession and his clients. Typically they manage to be critical and attractive, upsetting and sensual. This the ‘critical paranoia method,’ stems from Salvador Dali and it touches a public nerve while driving his architecture forward.

Shenzhen Stock Exchange
image © OMA Architects

Some Koolhaasian themes engage the question of radically different scales. These were first dramatised in the giant book S,M,L,XL written with Bruce Mau in 1995. If the extra small had problems then so too did ‘bigness,’ which destroys urban context. With ‘generic architecture,’ he showed universal abstraction challenging local meaning; or, with the ‘post-city’ network of a thousand miles, how the megalopolis cuts across urban boundaries. ‘Delirious New York,’ for which he became the retroactive scriptwriter, revealed the mania underlying the ‘culture of congestion;’ while today’s mania for preservation, he has recently shown, pickles an enormous percentage of the world’s building.

Even when you disagree with him, Koolhaas’ diagrams and epigrams are given weight by the completed buildings. Often a book is produced about the building while it is still under construction, amplifying the final results. Like Le Corbusier who created twin productions and cloned his style of thought, this double text has a longstanding effect on architectural culture. Students and academics read both texts together and some even may have gone through the studio of OMA or AMO before setting up on their own. In the eighteenth and nineteenth century the Scuola di Palladio had an enormous effect on European and American architecture and, one guesses that Rem’s future influence might be comparable. Indeed, already the movement labelled Superdutch, in the 1990s, might have been more aptly named SupeRem.

Dutch Embassy Berlin
photo © Adrian Welch

The new organisational ideas are illustrated by provocative examples. For instance, Koolhaas’ notion of the ‘free section’ (deriving from Le Corbusier’s ‘free plan’) first led to the Route Building of the Kunsthal in Rotterdam, 1993. Then this idea pulled together a series of jutting, cantilevered platforms, at the Seattle Central Library, 2004, and next turned into the ‘continuous loop’ of the gigantic CCTV Building in Beijing, 2009. Finally it became extra-small, as the corridor-street swallowed the whole building at the Maggie Centre, Glasgow, 2011.

Whatever the diagram, idea or formal invention, the theoretical part of Koolhaas keeps the constructive part on edge – vital, fascinating, maddening – and also youthful, often relevant and sometimes beautiful.

For further information or to book tickets go to: http://www.architecture.com/WhatsOn/Talks/Events/2012/Autumn/JencksAward2012-RemKoolhaas.aspx

3 Sep 2010

Jencks Award 2010

Steven Holl Receives the 2010 Jencks Award
Linked Hybrid
photo : Courtesy Steven Holl Architects © Shu He
Jencks Award 2010


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Charles Jencks – external link to Landscape project

RIBA Awards

Jencks Award winner in 2010 : Steven Holl
Vanke Center
image from architect

RIBA Royal Gold Medal

Stirling Prize

RIBA Lubetkin Prize

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