One of the blogs I love getting a chance to read is Lebbeus Woods‘s. Today he posted a wonderful piece about Rem Koolhaas’s Parc de la Villette competition entry, accompanied by some wonderful photos, some of which I’ve re-posted here. He also goes into the ideas behind the project and the history of probably the most famous of the grands projets initiated by the French government.
It’s a bit embarrassing at this point to mention that Rem Koolhaas may be the reason I became interested in architecture. As Woods writes, “there was once a Rem Koolhaas quite different from the corporate starchitect we see today. His work in the 70s and early 80s was radical and innovative, but did not get built. Often he didn’t seem to care—it was the ideas that mattered.” This was the Rem that made architecture seem something different from the stuffy domain of t-squares and protractors, and his seminal books S,M,L,XL and Content were as radical to the idea of an architectural monograph as his architectural projects were to architecture. Now, of course, it seems almost every young firm has a S,M,L,XL style book out, with saddeningly-predictable and impotent “unexpected” graphics and visual juxtapositions, and Rem himself is building buildings and master plans are that are almost frighteningly indefensible. Young Koolhaas was just so punk, and that was something that I wanted to be a part of (I wrote about the idea of punk a little bit in this review of the Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s film, Memories of Murder). Rem’s Parc de la Villette entry was one of those early projects that still feels fresh and revolutionary today, and it’s great to read Lebbeus Woods’s revisitation of his idea for a public park outside the heart of Paris.
Speaking of which, it’s amazing getting a chance to read Lebbeus Woods in a blog format–Mr. Woods is someone who every student of architecture knows about, drafting missives on a contemporary medium that we assume most people of his generation remain obstinately opposed to (or willfully ignorant). But he’s been working ceaselessly on architectural ideas for decades, and his blog is rare gem.