Ideas: Our Review of ‘Rem Koolhaas: A Kind of Architect’

Posted in by - June 27, 2023
Ideas: Our Review of ‘Rem Koolhaas: A Kind of Architect’

Markus Heidingsfelder and Min Tesch‘s Rem Koolhaas: A Kind of Architect has its interviewees speaking with a reserved awe while discussing the documentary’s titular subject. That subject, just in case I need to connect the dots for my reader, is Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. Interviewees, like his protege Joshua Prince-Ramus, contextualize the man who went to Berlin and thought of the Berlin Wall in a more conceptual way. To him, the dichotomy between what’s behind walls, or what’s inside and outside them, are more complex. He takes this philosophy, one that applies interdisciplinarily, to his work in designing buildings like individual homes, music halls, and Prada stores.

Rem Koolhaas: A Kind of Architect attempts to be fun. It mixes these interview segments with animation segments reminiscent of Rauschenbgerg collages. It also comes with a mission statement that is in tune with one of the architecht’s mission statements. Koolhaas often deconstructed every space under his commission, and with that, the doucmentary attempts to deconstruct the idea of an architectural ‘auteur’. The interviews and the narration speaks of that struggle that Koolhaas felt in needing to reinvent himself to stay relevant. But one of the other interviewees saw him more as one who designed to fit a space’s practical needs.

A Kind of Architect has a lot of ideas, or at least it glosses on those ‘stupid but smart’ ideas. The problem here, though, is that it presents those ideas with jargon that make the documentary come off as dry. In fairness, it’s difficult to see weird shapes like Koolhaas’ design for the Casa de Musica in Porto, and attach those shapes with ideas. Subjectively, it’s easier to do those things with fashion, visual art, and photography than it does with arechitecture. The interviwees and narrator’s reserved tone doesn’t help. This doucmentary needs at least one person who can externalize their excitement better.

It’s aslo ironic that A Kind of Architect is a documentary about a visual art with lacking visuals. Sure, this documentary came out in the late 2000s and even the documentaries from that time look a little rough. This is true even for documentaries from that era that I like. Its deconstruction of both concept and the self don’t match the visuals that look like they came from a high school project. I’ll give this the benefit of teh doubt that it needs a better restoration. But that one problem can’t cover up the others that I wrote about above. Lastlly, I’m not a prude, but theres nudity here that feels unnecessary.

Rem Koolhaas: A Kind of Architect is available on OVID.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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