Rem Koolhaas is celebrated not only as the architect of outstanding creations including the Dutch Embassy in Berlin, the Seattle Library, the Casa da Musica concert hall in Porto, and the Guggenheim Heritage Museum in Las Vegas, but also as a writer, filmmaker and social commentator. Rem Koolhaas: A Kind of Architect is an engaging portrait of a visionary man, which takes us to the heart of his ideas. For Koolhaas what is essential is not to create individual masterpieces, but to provoke and excite through the wide range of his activities, as reflected in this visually inventive, thought-provoking portrait. Directors Markus Heidingsfelder and Min Tesch have made a visually inventive, thought-provoking portrait of the architect, prompting Rem Koolhaas to state, “It’s the only film about me that I have liked.”
Rarely has an architect caused as much sensation outside of the architecture community as Rem Koolhaas. His outstanding creations—such as the Dutch Embassy in Berlin, the Seattle Library and the Casa da Musica concert hall in Porto—are working examples of the Dutchman’s visionary theories about architecture and urban society. But Koolhaas’ work is as much about ideas as it is about constructing buildings; he is equally celebrated as a writer and social commentator. For Koolhaas, what is essential is not to create individual masterpieces, but to provoke and excite through the wide range of his activities.
Films about architecture oddly seem to be arriving more and more at my doorstep, which is fine as it’s an oddly interesting topic. It’s nothing I’ve been interested in previously, but considering the architects profiled are often such extraordinary individuals that the documentaries are often flooded with not only visuals of their works (both fully realized and just ideas or concepts) but also a fairly in-depth look at their inspirations as well as other thoughts and interests. That’s exactly what we get here with Koolhaas’s documentary, as his career has spanned far across the spectrum of art and architecture, as he held jobs such as film critic and director in the past.
The documentary takes a very interesting approach with its presentation; it knows that it has a lot of information to pack in and as a result we get some split-screen shots of images and interviews to help move things along at a speedier pace. This does bring in a bit of an info dump at times, but for the most part it helps engage the viewer more so than other more laid back documentaries. It’s a very interesting approach and it helps the films hour and a half run time fly by with relative ease.
Whether it’s the various careers that we get to see that Koolhaas occupied over his years or just the very well done nature in which the documentary itself is presented to us, anyone with a passing interest in architecture will find this a Recommended film. That’s a bit of a niche audience to appeal to, but even those with only the tiniest bit of interest will find it fairly engaging.
docuramafilms brings Rem Koolhaas to DVD in a standard (and clear!) amaray DVD case. Nothing overly special about the presentation of the documentary here—no fancy exterior cardboard slipcase and the cover itself looks like a rather laid back BBC special documentary release more than anything. Video and audio is a solid presentation overall and about what you’d expect from a modern documentary.
Extras are fairly limited on this 2008 documentary as we get only a brief Interview with Rem Koolhaas as well as a Casa da Musica Aerial View. Cool additions to be sure, but most of your time will be spent on the hour and a half long documentary. Recommended if you’re a fan of his work.
Rem Koolhaas – A Kind of Architect is now available on DVD.