Architect Koolhaas sees economic woes blunting excess

Wed Apr 22, 2009 4:48am EDT
 
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By Jon Herskovitz

SEOUL (Reuters Life!) - Architect Rem Koolhaas, renowned for his striking designs and musings on cities, believes the global economic downturn will lead to less ostentatious, more "socially responsible" buildings that better serve the public.

The Dutch architect, whose firm designed the gravity-defying CCTV Headquarters in Beijing, Casa de Musica in Portugal and the Seattle Central Library, said more emphasis will now be placed on the efficient use of space during these lean times.

"The last 10 years have been noteworthy for the excess in the private sector," Koolhaas told Reuters at the opening of a sleek temporary exhibit hall he and his Office for Metropolitan Architecture designed for fashion house Prada in Seoul.

"What we are going to see is a return to the public sector. This is a healthy thing," he said on Wednesday.

The Prada Transformer structure, located next to an ancient palace in central Seoul, will open on Saturday with a fashion display.

The tetrahedron-shaped steel building, covered in a translucent white skin, is designed to be lifted by cranes and rotated so that it can best use each of its differently designed sides to show movies, host fashion shows or hold art exhibits.

Koolhaas said the building provides a bit of lightness -- constructed at a reasonable costs -- that is needed during an economic downturn.

Prada would not provide the amount it paid to construct the building.

(Editing by Miral Fahmy)