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The outer limits of Koolhaas and MVRDV


Another of Koolhaas’s imitators is architectural firm MVRDV, which takes its name from the founders’ initials: Winy Maas (1959), Jacob van Rijs (1964) and Nathalie de Vries (1965). De Vries is the only one never to have worked at OMA. MVRDV was, for example, commissioned by a housing association to build a relatively low-budget sheltered housing project (WoZoCo) in Amsterdam. The firm sees this type of project as a means towards realising its own ideas. They see a budgetary minefield as a reason for jumping in with both feet. It forces them to go to the limits.

Seeking the limits is something that MVRDV has in common with Koolhaas. Now that he can financially afford to refuse commissions, he is searching for other ideological or political limits. One such ideological grey area is the construction of the tower for the Chinese Central Television Headquarters, a project Koolhaas started work on in 2004. Could he work for a more-or-less dictatorial government? Did he want to build for the state television, a source of propaganda and repression? For Koolhaas the answer was yes, precisely because he wanted to engage with the transformation that this society is going through and which will ultimately influence all of us. Koolhaas received severe criticism for his choice, but eagerly seized upon the opportunity to debate the issue with his critics.