Fascination for robust solid buildings
Around the age of 12, it was very clear to me: I still have to do ‘something’ in construction. Finding a building and seeing it later become a reality is basically ‘super fat’. It quickly becomes clear: Hard, robust, robust buildings that can withstand beatings fascinate me, says project manager and construction technologist Robert Platje from Mei Architects and Planners.
Kunsthal Rotterdam by Rem Koolhaas
One of these is De Kunsthal in Rotterdam. A building with many faces. The art gallery was designed in the late 1980s by Rem Koolhaas together with the project architect Fuminori Hoshino from Rotterdam’s architectural firm OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture). The architecture immediately attracted great international attention and made Koolhaas world famous.
A large flat square box
The building immediately seems quite simple. A large, flat square box with a narrow, tall tower as a vertical accent. But if you look closer, the design is almost like an invention. The art gallery houses seven different exhibition halls, steep ramps and level differences, making it more of a continuity than a collection of floors. It’s simple and brutal, complex and smart, but the design is also rough and refined. In that sense, the building continues to fascinate me.
Classic building materials and wood parquet
Expensive, classic building materials such as travertine and wood parquet are combined with cheap, basic building materials such as corrugated plastic sheet, bare concrete, steel-pressed gratings and rough tree trunks. In some areas the material seems very thin: the thickness of the concrete and travertine is not readable, the details have been reduced to “zero”. In other places, such as the façade of the museum park, the thickness of the travertine façade is emphasized. Here, the seemingly heavy natural stone seems to hover over the huge glass surface. By giving different materials comparable details, the traditional property of the material is no longer legible.
Everywhere there are details that are just not perfect. Sometimes perfection is deliberately avoided. I read somewhere Rem Koolhaas ‘statement:’ I have the feeling that the world does not benefit from perfection at the moment. Therefore, we try to avoid it even in our best detail. ‘
Good architectural details
During my later education and experience in professional practice, the importance of good architectural details quickly became clear to me. No one wants a poorly functioning or ugly aging building. In any case, buildings remain functional things. ‘Good architecture-delicious’ obviously rejects an undeniable problem. But pushing the boundaries of what is architecturally feasible to make the concept stand out as strongly as possible obviously involves risks. The curtain walls at the restaurant area are located upside down: the styles are outside and the snap frame inside. Surprising and ingenious. A simple solution that provides a robust facade image. But therefore the gutters in the profiles are now on the inside, so water ran along the glass on the inside. This issue has now been resolved.
Koolhaas has a vision
All in all, the Kunsthallen is more than just a fascination for the building for me. It is also admiration for the man who gets it done. Koolhaas has a vision and has the will and great perseverance to make it happen.
This article was published in Bouwwereld number 10 of 2019 in the section Super cool. In this, a construction professional talks about his or her favorite building or interior.
Text: Peter de Winter
Photo: Miriam van der Hoek
Tags: kunsthal, Rem Koolhaas