In this essay, we will explore Rem Koolhaas’ Maison à Bordeaux amongst other works like the CCTV Headquarters, Garage Museum of Contemporary Arts and Almere-Haven Police Station. We will look into the layout, materials, construction, style and design of the works of art as well as how different factors affect the designs that Koolhaas has put forward, how he targeted the designs to the clients and how he took advantage of nature and light surrounding the site.Rem Koolhaas’ creation, Bordeaux House, is a private residence in Floirac; 5km from Bordeaux.
It is situated on a hilltop not far from the Garonne river and is surrounded by a stunning 180° view of Bordeaux and an English-style park. The building takes advantage of the surrounding nature: the hillside and the amazing views of the trees and city. The use of glass in the design invites nature into the building and creates an open space for the residents to occupy. Rem Koolhaas took advantage of the hillside and built into the ground – the bottom floor is almost completely submerged. The majority of the middle floor is surrounded by glass with a courtyard in the centre of the bottom floor.
However, despite the openness of the bottom two floors, the top floor has become the private area for the family, one half for the parents, the other for the children. It is a protective concrete box with several circular windows which allow particular views of the sky allowing more privacy, contrasting to the transparency of the other two floors. https://www.cadblocksdownload.com/products/sketchup-3d-architecture-models-maison-a-bordeaux-rem-koolhaas Rem Koolhaas’ buildings have been designed with contemporary and modern style. Each building has a different design and style to create individuality, however, each of them has similarities that connect to each other. The building allows natural sunlight into the middle floor and the courtyard making artificial lighting redundant for the majority of the day, therefore saving energy and money on bills.
The exterior doesn’t stand out in the surroundings but almost fits into the nature. As one approaches the building, it is seen that there are three levels to it. The lower floor is submerged in the surrounding hill, creating very private areas for the family to live in. Above is a glass room, half inside, half outside, creating a more open area. Finally on the top floor is a concrete box, creating a second private area, half for the children, half for the parents, part of which is an open elevator platform.
The floating floor was designed as a study for the father of the family, who requires a wheelchair due to a serious car accident. When asked to design a house suitable for wheelchairs, Koolhaas surprised the clients with a three-storey building, carved into the hill, with an additional courtyard and a platform that moves throughout the floors that acts as a room. This room moves freely between the three levels of the house and acts as a private study room or can be an addition to the living space, kitchen or wine cellar, giving him full access to the building whilst using his wheelchair.
This private study includes sufficient space for a wheelchair to move around, a desk and access to the bookcase that spans across several floors. The lower floor has been carved into the hill and consists of a basement with a glass partition between the rooms and the courtyard allowing the surrounding nature to be brought into the building. Each area of the floor has been carved into the hill independently. At this level, there are two units separated by a single patio overlooking the courtyard, one of which consisting of a room with a guest bathroom and the other, a bedroom with a bathroom, a kitchen and dining room. There are 3 sets of stairs and the platform that allows the occupants to access higher floors.
The second floor is what attracts the most attention. This living area is surrounded by glass walls allowing the close relationship between the building and the surrounding nature. This level of the building includes a dining room, study, elevator, living room and a sliding glass wall that takes you to the terrace. This section of the building has now become the most public of the house excluding the spiral staircase that passes through.The final level of the building is divided into two separate units, one for the couple and the other for the children. It is a protective concrete box containing several areas with a sky view.
The parent’s bedroom opens up to the landscape along the eastern end of the box. The rooms that the children occupy, however, have views of the landscape from only certain areas of their half of the level through a series of portholes carefully located to offer glimpses of the stunning landscape. There are several ways to access the different floors of the building; the first is a spiral staircase allowing access to the children’s unit of the house, the second is a staircase ramp located in the parent’s unit, the third is a staircase in the centre of the plan allowing access to the first and second floor, and finally the famous elevating platform designed for the primary client. http://oma.
eu/projects/maison-a-bordeaux The most extraordinary thing about this building is the use of the elevator transporting the clients from each floor. Rem Koolhaas had to create a building suited to the clients without being too ordinary, the building had to be different and exciting whilst meeting the needs of a man in a wheelchair so Koolhaas came up with the idea of a three-storey house with an elevating platform.This elevator moves vertically by a piston hydraulic.
It is not a simple lift, but a room that is designed as an office allowing access to the kitchen, living room, and bedroom, without leaving the desk. The wall adjacent to the platform acts as a library that follows the different levels of the building, allowing Mr Lemoine access to his study books.The second most extraordinary thing about Maison à Bordeaux is the unusual structure, unlike anything I have seen before. The structure is primarily based around the plant cantilever which is only supported by one of its ends by steel frame downstream and a beam that rests on the concrete wall and a cylinder coated stainless steel enclosing the staircase on the other. Usually, a building would have solid bases and tops lighter, however, this house is the polar opposite. The concrete box rests on an open space without major support and glass walls.
In this project, a huge steel beam, a story high, rests on the building. The first thing I noticed about the house was the contrast between the concrete box on the top floor and the glass box beneath it. The concrete box enables a private space away from others, however, the entirety of the middle floor is almost public due to the glass surrounding the interior.The building is composed of three separate units slotted and stacked on top of each other creating a three floor home with contrasting exteriors, the lower floor dug into the ground and the contrasting concrete and glass. The combinations of materials used in the house include the contrasting glass and cement, and the aluminium mixed with steel. The use of the cement and metal contrasts dramatically with the location of the house, the surrounding nature. This, however, is not surprising, as Rem Koolhaas, along with several of his other works such as Casa de Musica, Kunsthal, McCormick Tribune Campus Center, and China Central Television Headquarters tends to go against conventional design ideas or design a building to contrast its surroundings.
Looking through Koolhaas’ work it is clear that as time and technology has progressed, so has his work. Technology has made it easier to create certain designs and warp materials in new ways. In Koolhaas’ designs, he has been incorporating more glass into his works. When comparing Almere-Haven Police Station, completed in 1985, to China Central Television (CCTV) Headquarters, completed in 2012, you can see the vast difference in style and design. As time has passed, Koolhaas has been using more modern materials such as steel and glass in the CCTV Headquarters Koolhaas’ seems to also change his design based on the location of the building. For example, Bordeaux House was designed to be situated in France surrounded by nature so the design wanted to incorporate the landscape surrounding the site. They did this by having the second level made out of glass walls to allow the clients to have views of the surrounding area.
Rem Koolhaas, at the age of 31 founded the architecture firm OMA alongside Elia Zenghelis, Madelon Vriesendorp and Zoe Zenghelis. OMA was one of the first prize winners of the Architectural Design Competition with the project widely discussed and published. One of OMA’s first buildings, the Almere-Haven Police Station was completed in 1985. This building is located in Almere in the Netherlands. This building has similar features to Maison à Bordeaux such as the shape of the components of the building, the use of windows and light and more. The Police Station has several large windows to allow views from every room in the building and allows natural light to access the interior. The shapes of the components are similar to Maison à Bordeaux as they resemble rectangle pieces slotted together like a jigsaw. The style of both houses are so similar and have an elegant modern appearance to them.
Both buildings have a silver/grey element to them, either the interior or exterior and are surrounded by an element of nature, allowing the landscape to enter the building. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Overzicht_voorgevel_en_linker_zijgevel,_voormalig_politiebureau_-_Almere-Haven_-_20343335_-_RCE.jpg China Central Television Headquarters is situated in Beijing and was designed to be an alternative skyscraper. Instead of focusing on beating others in the race for height, the architects, including Rem Koolhaas, decided on being more creative and alternative to the normal design.
This building is visible from most of Beijing, due to the height of the building and the 75-metre cantilever. This building can be seen in different ways, sometimes it comes across as big and sometimes small, from some angles strong and from others soft. This structure has come to be due to the collaboration between European and Chinese engineers creating the 234-metre high building. https://www.
e-architect.co.uk/beijing/cctv-headquarters-beijing Rem Koolhaas, 2015, had completed the renovation of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art (GMoCA). This museum is situated in Moscow, Russia. It consists of three levels which accommodate the education and research programs and exhibitions. Inside is a 9 by 11 metre opening in the floor of the upper level creating a double height space for the lobby. This allows larger sculptures to be displayed.
The style of the building is different to the Bordeaux House as the GMoCA is a singular cuboid whereas the Bordeaux House is a collection of units slotted together like a jigsaw puzzle. The exterior, however, is very simple, not to distract from the surroundings. Similarly, Maison à Bordeaux isn’t too distracting from the surroundings. It is an extraordinary design and is far from the norm, however, the exterior fits in well with where it is located. http://oma.
eu/projects/garage-museum-of-contemporary-art There is a common theme amongst Koolhaas’ works and the sections of the buildings. With the majority of his works, the sections that can be taken from the buildings resemble jigsaws, where separate units are placed or slotted together. Instead of the typical sections of a cuboid with a few irregularities, the sections of Koolhaas’ work are different to the expected; he designs a skyscraper that has a 75-metre cantilever, a house that’s carved into the hill and resembles jigsaw pieces, both of which isn’t what is the regular design of the building. Koolhaas has a habit of shaking up conventions, making him a very controversial architect.
As architects age, they tend to tone down their work if it will land them a commission they are interested in. Koolhaas, however, remains the extravagant designer he has always been. His projects have awed and infuriated those who follow Koolhaas’ career, including several of his proposals that have been dropped. One of which is an addition to the Whitney Museum of American Art that looms over the existing building.
He strives to continue to build extravagant works of art instead of limiting his creativity to suit others. This is the thing I find most inspiring about Koolhaas, instead of hiding in the shadows, he is bringing these ideas to light and making memorable designs with them. Koolhaas is known for his obscure designs, going against the norm and his controversial buildings. He tends to deviate from the normal trends and designs whilst creating an amazing piece of architecture for the clients. He loosely follows current architectural trends but with a spin on the idea to make it unique and outstanding.
http://oma.eu/projects/maison-a-bordeaux Overall, Rem Koolhaas’ is known for his extravagant work so it is no surprise that the three-storey building designed for a wheelchair was a success with the elevating platform, the glass walls and ramp entrance. He never fails to impress the people who follow his work despite the controversy surrounding it. He took a client specification and fulfilled it in the most unexpected way possible. He doesn’t copy trends but designs in his own style and has been doing so throughout his whole career.