An artful glimpse into the brilliant mind of the world's most celebrated architect
Over four decades, 'starchitect' and master provocateur Rem Koolhaas has shaken up the field of architecture, and redefined the role of the architect in the world. Filmmaker Tomas Koolhaas spent 3 years following his father around the globe, playing witness to Rem's extraordinary creativity, as well as exploring his works through the eyes of those who actually inhabit them. REM is a rare and unique insight into the mind of a genius.
Born in post-war Rotterdam and spending part of his childhood in Indonesia, Koolhaas’s career as an architect has been defined “by an effort to know and investigate many completely different contexts, and trying to understand them, even before there was an opportunity to build there.” His desire to encounter and negotiate new territories and spaces across the world, however, belies the psychology of a man as much concerned with routine and rhythm as with change and new ventures. “Very crucial to my survival as a body and a mind is movement… I used to run but now I swim. I try to do it literally every day and every day more or less at the same time.”
Indeed, despite the apparent contradictions in Koolhaas’s life and work, there are continuities that run right throughout his practice as an architect. At the heart of his work is the desire to confound trends and expectations. “The moment there is a consensus I start getting nervous and start to question.” For Koolhaas, this rejection of consensus even extends to the function his buildings ought to serve. He acknowledges, even celebrates the fact that “a building has at least two lives - the one imagined by its maker and the life it lives afterward - and they are never the same.” For Mark, a homeless man from Seattle, the Seattle Central Library designed by Koolhaas’s practice OMA has become more than simply a place for information to be stored; it has become a source of mental stability. “I think it’s helped in not just in having a safe place to go, and a peaceful place to go, but also in helping me to stay optimistic about the future, and getting back on my feet.”