Art Culture > Architecture > Rem Koolhaas and the Venice Biennale Date posted: January 22, 2013

Rem Koolhaas
and the Venice

Rem Koolhaas has been nominated Director of the Architecture Department for the forthcoming 14th edition of the International Architecture Exhibition 2014. Here is why some are perplexed about it…

The International Architecture Exhibition 2014 will be directed by Rem Koohlaas and will be held from Saturday 7th June to Sunday 23th November 2014 at the Giardini and Arsenale. The last one (directed by David Chipperfield and entitled Common Ground) attracted 178,000 visitors.

 Rem Koolhaas, Venice Biennale 2014, 

Born in 1944 in Rotterdam, Holland, Koolhaas founded in 1975 the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, OMA. Architect’s architect, he won the renowned Pritzker Price in 2000 and he won the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in 2010  at the Biennale Architettura 2010. After studying at the Architectural Association in London, and at Cornell and the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in the US, Koolhaas wrote Delirious New York (1978). In his 1995, S,M,L,XL he summarised the work of OMA in 1,200 pages that redefined architectural publishing. Mutations, the first important exhibition he curated in Bordeaux in 1999, examined how urban landscapes are changing worldwide.

 Rem Koolhaas, Venice Biennale 2014,Seattle Central Library

This is certainly a dangerous choice, as some have stated online, both because of the edginess of his architecture and his commitment to so many projects, among them the Fondaco (Fontego, in Venetian) dei Tedeschi in Venice (once the main post office of the city) and an area to be transformed by the OMA studio of Rem Koolhaas in La Rinascente, a renowned shopping mall.  The blog Storie dell’arte discusses in detail all the cons of the project, that Koolhaas has been forced to modify in major ways to satisfy critics, although it does recognise his qualities as a modern architect. His involvement in this project is profoundly linked to his nomination as Director, some say. While the antiTHeSi website, hosts an article by Sandro Lazier, that very clearly disagrees with Koolhaas as director for 2014. The Il Giornale dell’Architettura, too, talks how Koolhaas hasn’t understood the “soul” of the Fondaco or the intentions of its original architect Fra Giocondo. Built overlooking the Canal Grande, near Rialto in 1505, by Giocondo, one of the most important Renaissance architects and a contemporary of Bramante and Leonardo.

 Rem Koolhaas, Venice Biennale 2014, Campus Center, Chicago

What is sure is that the stakes are high for such a renowned and talked-about architect, and that it is not going to be easy to make peace with the recent controversy over the Fondaco in a city that has always safeguarded its antiquity.


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