OMA Book Machine at
the Architectural Association


A 40,000-page book binding together 35 years of writing by architects OMA is on show at the Architectural Association in London.

Called OMA Book Machine, the exhibition forms a retrospective of the studio's written output including books and pamphlets from their archives.

The show opens on 8 May and continues until 4 June.

See all our stories about OMA in our special category.

Images: OMA Compendium. Photographs are by Valerie Bennett/AA.

Here's some more information from the Architectural Association:

OMA Book Machine: The Books of OMA
8 May – 4 June 2010 AA Gallery

OMA Book Machine is the first ever retrospective of the books produced by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture – a practice co-founded by a writer, Rem Koolhaas, largely on the basis of a book, Delirious New York (1978). The centrepiece of the show is a specially- made 40,000-page book, binding together hundreds of OMA’s pamphlets and books made over 35 years of architectural thought, work and provocation.

Many OMA books – like S,M,L,XL (1995) and Exodus or the Voluntary Prisoners of Architecture (made by the founders of OMA in 1975, and submitted by Koolhaas as his fifth-year thesis at the AA) – have had a decisive impact on architectural practice and book publishing in general. Others, like MoMA Charrette, made for the (lost) competition to expand New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1997, have remained hidden in the OMA archive. By compiling and presenting the depth and relentlessness of OMA’s dedication to the making of books as a still-revolutionary architectural form, OMA Book Machine reveals how central books remain to architecture today.

Curated and edited by AA director Brett Steele and AA art director Zak Kyes in collaboration with the OMA Archive Collection, Book Machine offers a hitherto unseen retrospective not only of a key architectural office of our time, but of architectural culture itself, which has long been defined by and circulated through books and the printed page – a medium that today is undergoing profound, even revolutionary, changes.

The 40,000-page compendium, Books of OMA, made after painstaking archeology in the OMA archive, brings together a vast selection of the bound volumes made by OMA and its think tank, AMO. It is inspired by the Acquis Communitaire – the 80,000-page collection of European laws and regulations defining the workings of the European Union – that OMA produced and presented in its Image of Europe exhibition in Brussels in 2004.

The most recent product of OMA’s Book Machine is Al Manakh 2: Gulf Cont’d, the second installment in a guide to the Gulf region, this time focusing on the impact of the financial crisis and the increasing interconnectedness of the region nevertheless. Al Manakh 2: Gulf Cont’d will be launched at the AA Bookshop simultaneously with the exhibition – and will be found at the very end of the OMA Acquis.

Coinciding with OMA Book Machine will be an exhibition in the AA’s Front Members Room on the work of Bedford Press, the newly formed imprint of AA Publications established to print and distribute small publications featuring the work of students, writers, artists and designers. Adjacent to this show, the AA’s bar will display a large selection of one-off books made by AA students in recent years as part of their studies. Spring 2010 at the AA presents a season of books and aims to demonstrate the enduring importance of books as, and not only in, the architecture of our time.

See also:


All our stories
about OMA
Koolhaas launches Al Manakh in Dubai MahaNakhon
by OMA

Posted on Wednesday May 5th 2010 at 1:15 pm by Catherine Warmann. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • luca

    It should fits in my Billy…

  • jeff

    it’s still about quality and not quantity, although you would never guess looking at rem koolhaas

  • PETE

    Are they going to release a custom OMA ipad like the custom U2 ipod?

  • somedude

    why are there 10 photos of this pile of books? There is nothing visual about this project that can’t be understood from 2 photos. It seems that the project should be appreciated based on the aesthetic of the writing and not how the books are arranged.

  • visualmess

    why writing or talking so much? the solution to every architectural problem is a box anyways.

  • i bet those pages are empty!!

  • Booh

    I’m impressed, whoever wrote this article writes like… 5– some odd words about books and doesn’t say the word “read” ever… Impressive, quite impressive.

    Possibly architects have just evolved beyond reading… sometimes it feels that way.

  • tyler

    looks like cool promotion for some book title around word ‘grass’

  • HD

    They need to bring this to Storefront for Architecture (NYC)

  • tim

    this seems silly. If you aren’t going to go the whole nine yards and reformat everything to a single size and make an absurdly massive binding and a great object piece, than just make an exhibition as a library where you can sit and grab a book and read at your leisure.

  • MR

    i find it extremelly interesting given that the practice (OMA) has been feeding itself and recording the reasearch that goes into each one of the projects through these booklets. also, i appreciate not changing the sizes of the booklets themselves – there are trends or tendencies that can potentially be observed. will be at the opening.

  • LOW

    Koolhaas turns the geek in me on

  • comment

    The OMA ‘trick’ approach , looking for the ‘wow’ effect, is so outdated…OMA, very sadly just became a caricature of itself…so long..

  • nottime

    I don’t think it’s right to reformat the originals and change the history of the formats they used. A book is just a pile of paper stuck to each other and this seems just like a large version of it. I thought it was just plain ugly at first, but sort of appreciating it’s weirdness now if you consider it one book. Would like to see if it works though.

  • r

    you can’t judge a book by its cover. the photographs and display were created with an aesthetic mindset, but i’m certain the content of any office – let alone one in existence for 35 years – would be remarkable to trove through.