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Rem Koolhaas sweeps the Biennale

The Casa de Musica in Portugal

The Architecture exhibition at this year’s Venice Biennale doesn’t open until late August, but Rem Koolhass has already been announced the winner of the Gold Lion for Lifetime Achievement, the Biennale’s top prize. Koolhaas’ work focuses on “the exchanges between people in space,” said Biennale chairman Paolo Baratta in a reflection on the theme “People Meet in Architecture.” Certainly the structures designed by Koolhass and his partners at OMA (The Office for Metropolitan Architecture) encourage, if not demand attention from their inhabitants.  Take the Casa Da Musica in Portugal, one in a series of concert halls designed specifically to “escape the domination of the ‘shoe-box’ concert hall” shape by restructuring the interior layout and including intimate, unexpected spaces for human interaction in contrast to the vastness of the hall itself and the magnitude of the National Orchestra of Porto.

The grand hall vs. unexpected, intimate spaces

The Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre

Deconstructing the ‘shoe-box’

The Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre in Dallas is a more recent concert hall project, completed in 2009. Again, the interior space rethinks the ‘shoe-box’ and the way the typical front-of-house and back-of-house spaces can strangle the auditorium itself. For this structure Koolhaas stacked the spaces vertically, a similar approach to his concept for the Musee National des Beaux-Arts du Quebec in Quebec City, which is still under development. For the fourth addition to the museum’s collection, Koolhaas brings unity to the three existing structures with a building of stacked shapes that “cascades” from park to city, presumably guiding the visitor on an ascension from their daily life to an elevated experience of viewing art.

Musee National des Beaux-Arts du Quebec

The Architecture Exhibition at the 12th Annual Venice Biennale runs from August 29 – November 21, 2010.