Is Rem Koolhaas the Netherlands’ most important architect? The question of who is the best Dutch swimmer is easier to answer, as there are at least objective rules for measuring that. Is the number of buildings realised by Koolhaas the deciding factor? In that case the title should go to someone else. Yet the answer to our first question remains a resounding yes.
No-one has had more impact on the following generation, as well as the avant-garde, than Rem Koolhaas (1944). Ex-employees copy and imitate his way of working, both in the Netherlands and all over the world. His architectural firm Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) has offices in Rotterdam, New York and Beijing. Koolhaas’s work is characterised by a pure drive for freedom: to escape from the constricting ethics of functional and ‘rational’ building. This attitude is also prompted by pure stubbornness. And this is something you see in those of his followers who have in the meantime also become leading architects: Kees Christiaanse, Willem-Jan Neutelings and Winy Maas. Even though some of them may have only worked for Koolhaas for two years and have now been working independently for twenty years, you can still see traces of OMA in their considerable oeuvres. Since Maas’s recent involvement in the future plans for Paris, his international celebrity status has grown by leaps and bounds.