Photo: Rade Kovac www.radekovac.com
Sometimes, beauty is just there
S.S.: Actually, that building was finished just before I entered the University, so, at that moment I could not realized the greatnes of those buildings, the Steven Holl one, and the Rem one ( that is realy nice ); now, as I look at the Rem’s, it is actually verry radical, but as a student, at that time, I could not realize how interesting it was. So, it did not have so much influence, but it is a kind of strange irony that it was the only project build in Japan at that moment was in Fukuoka.
S.S.: We make a conscious effort not to repeat the concept that was used in another project, because we beleive in specificity of each project. Let us say that program is library – what you can do in Belgrade, you can’t do exactly the same elsewhere, because the climate is different, the site is different, the collection of books is different, so we don’t think that you can use the same concept. But sometimes, because we do so many projects at new territories in Middle East, where you have no context, just desert, or at new city in China… and also a program that is kind of speculative, commercial projects, with a mix-use (office / residential /retail), that kind of thing, we sometimes use it again, because – when something is born without any specificity, you can practicly, technically, use it elsewhere.
You know, we always make our own rule, but we also enjoy breaking our rules! Hoping that by copying maybe we are actually creating something new. It’s not about time-saving or money-saving, but – it is: by repeating the concept at entirely different environment, something new will happend. So, if we are to do “re-using the concept”, it is with the mind of more positive thinking rather than just re-using…
S.S.: Well, it’s not like OMA promotes one-building-typology to the world. There are many high-rise specialists, museum specialists. We don’t do that. So, it is verry difficult to repeat and make financial success. But, we are getting better, we used to be worst in thinking of financial consequences, we were so excited about designing. Now, we are much bigger organisation, and we are experiencing many downturns of recesion. We are much more careful and much better at reaching more efficient process.
S.S.: It’s true, but You know, we also don’t want to be regarded as “we always do cantilevers”. We do use cantilevers often, or something that goes larger to the top. I have to say, even though it’s true, it’s not the conscious effort to do so, it’s more that we seek pure gestures. It is exotic that way if the project is complex enough to have multiple expressions (not just cantilever) with more expressions and more intentions happening.
But of course, it is by the time of that spectacular moment, when architecture becomes the main feature. In the process it’s not like that, we think of many different languages to express our creation. I think that gravity is something that has always (it is not only us), througout history of architecture, I think gravity has been expression that architecture was based off.
S.S.: I think that architecture, if it has a task, than the task is to provide more and more characters. Because there are so many commercial developments, that when you are experience the city, it is very similar anywhere you go. I think that we, as architects, together, should established much better sets of program, that are different. Because, othervise, architecture can always disquise difference in forms, in materials, but – if the program is the same, then your experience is the same! So, maybe, what we should do is to find diversity in program. That’s Number One.
Maybe it is not for architecture alone, maybe it is much more for urban planning, urban thinking, to provide better connections with public space between buildings. I mean, Europe has such strong tendency to be able to do that. But in certain countries, new countries, like in China and Middle East, or even in America, that kind of connections are not easy to make. Even in the new part of cities in Europe, there is very different understanding of public space and the building, compared to the old cities.
So, I think that’s one thing that we should be conscious of. Because, as You may know, there are more cityes than ever in China now, more than anytime in history of human being. So, there are so many cities made by naive, simple thinking, that we have to make slightly more focused effort togather to think what better cities are, and what to do about it.
S.S.: Yes, I’m in “Prada”. It has to do with some discount (laughter).
S.S.: If architecture and architects can collaborate with fashion industry in a very fundamental way, like what we do with “Prada”, than I think we can (help them boost sales). If we are just given a task to design a store, than you probably can, but not fundamentaly. Because, collaboration with “Prada” means that we designed fashion show for them, we designed a look-book (as we designed catalogue), we did designed web site for them, we designed shop, we designed parties for them… you know, there is much more intense collaboration. That way, we can reflect their way of thinking, and they can accept our way of thinking, and as result, we can probably compute beauty. At least, we can create much consistent branding throughout whole section of fashion industry. And, at the end, that can contribute to better sell the product.
S.S.: I think that architecture can also create that kind of tension, or at least be conscious of that kind of vanity (fashion industry is all about how to make yourself look better and feel good). It’s true that we can (calculate that gender issue), but maybe I was not so conscious so far… it’s a good point, I will be more aware of it! (laughter)
S.S.: In journalism you can already see architectural blogs. Not just architectural, they cover many fields… blogs become more influential, everything becomes faster. I think that understanding architecture and consuming architecture will be different. Everything will be copied multiple times.
As I see it, at the end, consequences of the digital age, will be following: much bigger separation between people involved and committed to that kind of fast-pace consumption and those who don’t want to belong to that mould. Nowdays, Museums exist at remote places. It’s popular, because it’s no longer urban typology, if you want to commit yourself – you go to suburb, or in the middle of nowhere, where you have a kind of very pristine architecture, not so contemporary, in the middle of the landscape… so, I found out that this is reaction on that kind of life where you are always connected via mobile phone, smart phone.
Also, on the other hand, if you embrace digital culture, there are many things that you can do. I’m not aware of spatial consequences yet, because 10 or 20 years ago lots of people thought that digital age will change the forms or the space…
S.S.: Yes… well, of course, at urban level, physical environment is changing due to digital era. For example, I’m sure that behavior at the public spaces is different. People are connected wherever they are. Shopping is different, too, you can order almost anything through internet. So, aim of shopping will be different, as I’m shure that there is something different happening in suburbs, where are those big data to facilitate everyones digital life.
So, at urban level, I’m shure there are consequences, but at architectural level, I personally can not find any differences yet.
S.S.: No, it survived, the structure was intacted. Actually, it is replanned now, exterior is almost done, they are doing interior now. It took a while to check if structure is intact, luckily – it was concrete structure, and it was not severely damaged.
S.S.: It is chalenging, but the core is straight, so it is all in transition of the mass from one side to another, so it is not completely unstable. And entire facade is a structure. It’s a pity that project was never realised because of crises -costs of performance didn’t support the basic selling price.
But I still believe that this is an interesting form that came out from very dense urban environment like New York. Again, we are very interested in showing what is possible for that specific condition – meaning, that building can happened only there, on that site, for that client. In that way we expresed very well specificity of that project.
S.S.: Yeah, that’s the problem (laughter). But, you know, Rem is very good educator, and also – OMA Studio provides sense of mentality and method that is applicable to many different social condition. And, you know, if you are famous, you attract very ambitious people. It’s a kind of cycle of many different aspect. It is true that now we are competing with “our archive” architects at two competitions. It is very exciting, but of course, for Rem it must be very annoying (when your own students become your competitors), but it is also his success! I don’t hear anyone from Renzo Piano Office, or Herzog & de Meuron Office, or even Zaha Hadid Office… part of Rem and OMA aura is that they always produce so many successful architects.
Well, at least I think that it is very positive.
S.S.: I was always conscious of not really being egoistic person. I believed in certain rationalities like typical OMA: site is like this, the program is like that, so the building will become like this and that… but more and more I am actually interested in more personal decision, abstract decisions too, because I’m little bit tired of explaining everything. Sometimes, beauty is just there. You don’t realy always know the reason why you like this more than that. I just want to be true to my own instinct. That is something that OMA is often misunderstood. We apear to be very rational, very determined, that we undertake very logical process, but – actualy we look at the form, at the beauty, we look at the color… We discuss a lot about the form or the colour, or the aesthetics. We even change the concept if we can’t come to the good form, good shape. So, we are very interested in that dimension too.
I would like to develop that part for myself too. To be more intrusive, more free, more enjoyable… not always too much charge to explain everything.