These past few weeks have been rather hectic here in our studio. With the fast approach of the end of the semester setting aside time to read and do a case study of sorts has been hard. None the less I bring to you this week’s article. The building that Rem Koolhaas/OMA designed is part of a school that has a focus on the cafetorium as a center for human engagement.
Architecture and Freedom? Programmatic Innovation in the Work of Koolhaas/OMA, Cafetorium at Utrecht
This case study describes the work of Rem Koolhaas/OMA, and the programmatic innovations that attempt to break archeological ideologies that are embodied within special programs. These programmatic innovations include the development of social encounters, and social segmentation. Koolhaas goes against the social paradigm of programmatic spaces and instead creates architecture that encourages the interruption of events, social encounters and create opportunities for action. Throughout his design he creates a special structure that allows for a multiplicity of choices for movement of pedestrians by giving the building the feel of a “field” rather than just a piece of architecture. Koolhaas’ design is described as a “fan” of a tree effect within a building characterized by the multiplicity of numerous pathways throughout yet still maintaining a dispersed control through the building. These types of structure control circulation and social interaction only within certain key access points. Koolhaas gave the building as great sense of depth by reorganizing the structure of inhabitant space and visitor space. Koolhaas kept the visitors main need on the outside of the structure and moving all of the inhabitant space deep within the building. Within the cafetorium there was a deliberate attempt to generate vastly diverse forms of social encounter. The building is broken up into various types of spaces called “synthetic landscapes.” One of these landscapes are the examination rooms. These rooms are described as interior landscapes that are able to be flexibly subdivided for different functions, as they are tucked five to six levels deep within the grid structure and allows for a high level of supervision. This “permeable” special structure allows for students and users to freely discover their own shortcuts and routes throughout the building. These circulation spaces are designed as a series of pause spaces of impromptu hang out areas between classes or exams.
Dovey, K., & Dickson, S. (2002). Architecture and Freedom? Programmatic Innovation in the Work of Koolhaas/OMA. Journal of Architecture Education, 5-13.