OMA now preoccupied with "the countryside
and preservation" says Rem Koolhaas


Movie: Rem Koolhaas explains how his preoccupations have shifted from urbanism and the city to preservation and the countryside in this second movie filmed by Dezeen at the launch of OMA's new Rotterdam skyscraper. "It's a cliche that everybody is living in the city," the architect says. Update: this interview is featured in Dezeen Book of Interviews, which is on sale now for £12.

The OMA founder believes that rapid urbanisation coupled with the increasing difficulty of building in heritage areas is creating a dichotomy for architects.

"We discovered that, unbeknown to us, a large part of the world's service is under a particular regime of preservation and therefore cannot be changed," he says. "That made us suddenly aware that the world is now divided into areas that change extremely quickly and areas that cannot change."

With most architects increasingly concerned with urbanisation, Koolhaas explains why he sees the countryside as an opportunity for OMA."It's a cliche that everybody is living in the city," he says. "Currently we are thinking about the countryside and what one could do in the countryside, and perhaps a new thinking about the countryside."

Besides his architectural work with OMA, Koolhaas also heads a sister organisation called AMO, which conducts research and gathers intelligence that feeds into both his and his clients' projects.

"We work as architects but also constantly try to explore where brand new issues arise or where new contradictions emerge, or where a particular way of thinking about a subject is no longer really kind of vital and needs revision," he explains.

Koolhaas explored some of these ideas at the OMA/Progress exhibition, which took place at the Barbican Art Gallery in 2011. One wall of the exhibition featured a series of images depicting countryside scenes in various European countries, while a previously sealed entrance was opened up for the first time in the gallery's history to highlight OMA's interest in preservation.

  • Steeevyo

    It’s a cliche? You tricked us Rem! Boo!

  • Danny

    I live in the countryside… Please Mr Koolhass, stay away :(

  • bwd

    So I guess he is the miracle, an architect who made money! Now he better keep those rental floors occupied, the countryside is off-limits!

  • Fabio

    People will now say “wow Rem Koolhaas defined a new direction for architecture” when most Dutch practices have been doing that for decades: restoration and countryside planning.

    Easy to say that after building boxes in all kinds of shapes around the globe. Guess better later than never, isn’t it Rem?

    I’d love to see OMA take the black smoking attitude and dress in countryside jeans and boots. Bye bye Armani, welcome Carhartt.

  • Puzzled Monkey

    How can a firm who has completed a monstrosity such as the giant De Rotterdam, then within the same week talk about architecture in the countryside?!

  • humanoide

    Please Rem, DON’T!

  • feuillet

    He describes the regimes affecting a large part of the world’s surface, not its service. Some of the comments here suggest many are presupposing what he will say or what he must think. That is rather foreign to the concept of ‘listening’.

  • Alan

    Shame on you ! Stop making architecture a kind of leisure park for rich enterprises, go to garden bio dynamically!

  • mb4design

    Maybe Rem needs to define what he means by countryside and where that countryside is. Here in the USA the countryside is exploited by developers with no eye toward sense of place or sustainability and typically in some wretched pseudo-historical aesthetic.

    Preservation and innovation can be symbiotic. The test is in execution. More good examples could inspire all: show us.

  • Fern

    I guess he got tired of ruining cities so now he’s got his communist crosshatches on the countryside. Grab on for your lives farmers and country folks. Amazing the irony of this so-called genius.

  • Bill

    What ever happened to the “cities are everything”, Rem? Are you going to suddenly ram your brilliant concepts on the countryside now after you’ve realised what a farce the whole modern city angle is?