Rem Koolhaas to curate 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale

08.01.2013, 14:18

Putting an end to recent flurries of gossip in the architecture world, it was finally confirmed on Tuesday that Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas will curate the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale, The Guardian reports.

“We want to take a fresh look at the fundamental elements of architecture – used by any architect, anywhere, anytime,” said Koolhaas in an official statement released by the Biennale, “to see if we can discover something new about architecture”.

Appointed director of the 14th international exhibition, the responsibility involves curating a central show in the 300m-long Corderie dell’Arsenale, Venice’s former rope-making factory, as well as co-coordinating a number of national pavilions in the sprawling biennial extravaganza – which will open from 7 June – 23 November 2014.

Ever one to keep you guessing, just what might the 68-year-old enfant terrible of architecture have in mind?

His recent personal obsessions have included the Nigerian capital of Lagos – on which a vast tome of research still remains in his office, unpublished – the Japanese Metabolist movement, attitudes to preservation, and the work of public sector architects – which formed a brilliant contribution to this year’s Biennale.

Perhaps all of these themes, and more, will make their way into what will no doubt be a heterogeneous cocktail, reflecting the voracious and promiscuous appetite of Koolhaas’ practice, OMA.

But, judging from a recent series of lectures, his most recent preoccupation is decidedly anti-urban: whether it is down to the nostalgia of old age, or a desire to retain his continually contrarian position, Rem is turning rural and looking to the countryside.
“Only 2% of the earth’s surface is occupied by cities,” Koolhaas told an audience at the RIBA in November, as he received the Charles Jencks award for Theory in Practice. “As architects, if we don’t look at the countryside, we are ignoring 98% of the world – which seems a bit irresponsible.”

He declared his modest ambition was “to write a book on the countryside, with the combined literary precision of Tolstoy and Houellebecq,” tracing the impact of the increasing industrialisation of agriculture on the landscape. Charting the digitisation of farming, “where every tractor is equipped with a laptop, and every inch of field translated into a pixel,” he spoke of hopes to “decipher whether there is a secret connection between the grandiose Cartesian reorganisation of the countryside, in contrast to the picturesque whimsicality that we now pursue in our cities.”

Last year’s Biennale, curated by David Chipperfield, put buildings back at centre stage in its pursuit of “Common Ground” among architects. Whether next year’s show takes on a more green-fingered hue or not, it promises to be a radical investigation into uncharted ground.