CULTURE

Architectural masters talk of their work

Leading figures in global architecture are coming to Athens at the beginning of next month for a series of lectures at the city’s Concert Hall. Internationally acclaimed and award-winning Rem Koolhaas will start the series on January 12 (the lecture will take place at 7 p.m.), thus inaugurating the Athens Concert Hall’s initiative of bringing local audiences closer to so-called intellectual architects. Since the 1970s, Koolhaas (who was awarded the much-coveted Pritzker Prize in 2000, considered the Nobel of architecture) is a man who has done much to take architectural thinking forward. Following the 60-year-old Koolhaas, a number of prominent creators will present their works and vision to the Greek public. Among them are this year’s Pritzker laureate, Zaha Hadid. Based in London, the Iraqi architect is considered, along with Koolhaas, a professional heavily involved in social thinking, ultimately promoting a new kind of architectural philosophy. Also expected during 2005 is Italian-Swiss Mario Botta, who is currently working on a new building on Syngrou Avenue in collaboration with local architects Rena Sakellaridou and Morfo Papanikolaou. Others on the list of lecturers are 74-year-old American Peter Eisenmann and 50-year-old French architect Christian de Portzamparc (Pritzker Prize-winner, 1994). On the Greek front, an invitation was extended to Nikos Valsamakis, a prominent architect of the postwar period who has also won international recognition. Koolhaas Koolhaas boasts an extensive number of buildings, dispersed throughout the world, representing his post-modernist, post-socialist, anti-bourgeois stance. Also known for his writings, Koolhaas is highly demanding of his public, not just in terms of the buildings he designs for them, but also in the way his audiences look at life and the world in general. For Koolhaas, architecture finds its vindication through social change and the acceptance of chaos as a given entity. He delivers the kind of architecture which is simultaneously short-lived as well as timeless; his work is practical but also indirectly symbolic, not of some great idea but of the simple truth. His critics pan his disregard of beauty and taste. For the rest of the world, he is hailed as a true visionary and philosopher. Building the world Born in the Hague in 1944, Koolhaas studied in Britain before establishing his OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture) practice in 1975. Over the years, he has participated in a number of international competitions. Some of his projects include the Villa dall’Ava in Paris (1991), the Nexus Housing in Japan (1991), the Kunsthall in Rotterdam (1992), the Euralille in Lille (1994), the Dutch Embassy in Berlin (2003), a concert hall in Porto (2004) as well as flagship Prada stores in New York and Los Angeles (built in 2001 and 2004 respectively). This is not the first time Koolhaas will be lecturing in Greece. In 2001, the architect was a guest of the Greek Architectural Institute, speaking at the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens.