Koolhaas’s intellectual ardor | Marcelo Gardinetti

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Fotografía: Philippe Ruault
Photography: Philippe Ruault

The distinctive feature of the thought of Rem Koolhaas comes from his conviction to proclaim the polyfunctionality of the architectural fact, a declaration that dogmatizes by means of the distribution of the elements of the program in independent caps but that they assure between yes strategies of reciprocity.

This operation is the corollary of a deep analysis of the program and of the social context in the one that is going to develop, and fertilizes in the definition of the architectural form, always influenced by the formation movie fan of Koolhaas.

The entity like that produced proposes an architecture of rapid sensations and of surprises that are revealed to every step, happening abstract forms that liberate the project of any linguistic appointment.

When Koolhaas was summoned for the contest for the Music House, it focused his analysis in two intentions that ended for forging the character of the building. The first one was to prevent that the form of box of shoes of the room, configuration that the best acoustic one offers, was dominating the character of the work. The second one was consisting of mutating the concept of public building for that of building for the public, doing inform the external transient of the activity who develops in his interior.

Casa Y2K
Y2K House

To confront both questions, it appeals to an architectural concept that it had applied in another program and to another scale, the Y2K house. It is a question of an incomplete project for a client attached to the strict order, that it was required a room of being completely liberated of the rest of the domestic activities. Koolhaas answered to this demand with the design of a three-dimensional body of forms facetadas that it crossed from side to side with a tunnel where the social life of the family develops:

“Everything what was not a central space turned into an element or a body in that all the organs were in the exterior”. 1

The same idea the despliega in the new project, but to community scale: the “tunnel” is occupied now by the principal room and in the spaces that surround it it locates the complementary areas.

The area where the Music House is implanted is located opposite to a rotunda, between the historical area of the city and a workers’ neighborhood. The building is located in the center of the lot, isolated of the sides consolidated to exalt the autonomy of the volume and to break the hegemony of fronts on the square. One agrees his volumetry on a carpet of tiles of travertino that by means of guessed right wavinesses conceals below all the existing activities that are dispersed in the square: the stop of bus, a cafeteria and the accesses to the underground bus depots.

Casa de Música
Musi House in Porto

The design of the House of Music shows indications of a project of postwar period for a theatre in Dakar, of André Bloc and Claudio Parent, similarity that demonstrates in his section of irregular profile, and in the break between the scenic space and the room. His forms facetadas stand out in the sides of a way unequal and I dress from different angles the figure it seems to lack balance, but opposite to the square it offers a front of formal and elegant aspect that does not contrast in excess with other buildings.

The rind of white concrete establishes a point of continuity with the abstract ways of the modern movement, and fundamentally with the work of Le Corbusier, a fact that the own Koolhaas demonstrates without evasions:

“like a architect I raise myself if it is necessary to break with a line of continuity that comes from the past, from the history of the architecture, both in a material way and from the concept; if it is not necessary to use the concrete or the steel because Mies van der Rohe was using it. I feel proud to follow this continuity with the past, beside contributing new things to this continuity”. 2

The exterior stairs purifies the arrival to the foyer, where an opening shows a dynamic image of the city. In this space there is born another stairs that develops attending to a tour of functions and unexpected spaces, a “architectural adventure” in contour of the strict form of the principal room. In the ascent rooms arise for different uses, terciando one sequences that it culminates in the room of informal meetings located in the top part.

La sala principal
The principal room of the Music House in Porto | Photography: Philippe Ruault

In this room two architectural events meet: a sloping transparent ceiling offers a vision slanted of the city and the sea, and a trapezoidal terrace lodged in a remaining space of the surrounding one serves as expansion of the room and viewing-point of the urban landscape.

The principal room determines the distinctive event. His strict character reveals an unpublished purity in the building. The “curtains” of glass waved in the ends of the “tunnel”, they reveal on the outside what happens in the room, and in the interior they cause a sensation of absolute levity, while the city is impregnated in the wavinesses of the glass to demonstrate a distorted and poetical image.

Koolhaas waves the design with his intellectual energy and evolves it in an irreverent and sensory element, constructing a grafía that expresses his rebelliousness against the modernist purity. The internal tour is submitted to emotional tensions and surprises that happen one after other one, up to resting in the vigorous space of the room, where the simplicity of his conventions allows to relieve these tensions, while in the ends of the tunnel the excitation of the city is evoked as an animated curtain that subdues the scene.

Marcelo Gardinetti. Architect
La Plata, Argentina. July 2016


1 OMA, Memoria descriptiva del proyecto. Ferran Bono, Interview to Rem Koolhaas, El País, 28/10/2005.

2 Ibídem.


Marcelo Gardinetti

No voy a hablar de la penumbra, mejor voy a ver si puedo despertar.

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