Contemporary Architecture

Rem Koolhaas – CCTV HQ Beijing

The Architect

  • Born November 17, 1944 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
  • Definitely a celebrity architect, at the opening of the Prada stores of his design in New York and Los Angeles, he was a recognizable figure
  • Former journalist and screenwriter who studied architecture at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London
  • “Professor in Practice of Architecture and Urban Design” at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design
  • In 1975 Koolhaas along with some other architects founded the OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture), dedicated to finding “new synergies” between architecture and contemporary culture
  • In 2005, he co-founded ‘Volume Magazine’ together with Mark Wigley and Ole Bouman.


  • Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate for the year 2000
  • TIME Magazine Best Architecture for 2004 (Seattle Central Library)
  • RIBA Gold Medal (2004).
  • In 2005 Rem Koolhaas received the Mies van der Rohe Award for the Netherlands Embassy, Berlin

A Visionary Architect:

From the Pritzker Prize Jurors:

  • Rem Koolhaas is that rare combination of visionary and implementer —philosopher and pragmatist — theorist and prophet — an architect whose ideas about buildings and urban planning made him one of the most discussed contemporary architects in the world even before any of his design projects came to fruition.
  • He is not a formalist, yet he creates form. He is not a functionalist, yet programs are the generators of his solutions; he is not a theoretician, yet ideas dominate his work.

Design Philosophy

  • Boldly produces buildings that differ visually to their surroundings
  • Celebrates the “chance-like” nature of city
  • Interrogated the “Program“ to oppose the notion “ an act to edit function and human activities “ as the pretext of architectural design
  • His work emphatically embraces the contradictions of  two disciplines- architecture and urban design

Important Work:

  • Kunsthal, (Rotterdam, 1993)
  • Euralille (Lille, 1988)
  • Netherlands Dance Theater (The Hague, 1988)
  • Educatorium, (Utrecht, 1993-1997)
  • Netherlands Embassy (Berlin, 2003)
  • Guggenheim Museum, (Las Vegas, 2002)
  • Nexus Housing (Fukuoka, Japan)
  • Retail design for Prada stores (New York 2003, Los Angeles 2004)
  • McCormick Tribune Campus Center, (IIT Chicago, Illinois, 1997-2003)
  • Seattle Central Library (2004)
  • Casa da Música (Oporto, 2005)
  • CCTV HQ, Beijing (2008)

CCTV HQ Beijing:

Project Details:

  • Architects: Rem Koolhassand OMA,East China Architecture and Design Institute of Shanghai (ECADI)
  • Engineers: OveArup and Partners
  • Financing:Chinese Government (est. Investment: $1.2 Billion)
  • Location: New central business district in Beijing, China

Architectural Concept:

  • It takes the state-run broadcaster to a new level of global broadcasting, expanding from its previous operation of running 13 channels to over 200 upon completion.
  • Combines administration and offices, news and broadcasting, programme production and services – the entire process – in a single loop of interconnected activities
  • Consists of nine-storey ‘Base’, the two leaning Towers that slope at 6° in each direction, and the nine to 13-storey ‘Overhang’, suspended 36 storeys in the air
  • A visionary design, radical shape – defying the traditional skyscraper
  • A landmark building, reflects the new image of China
  • A major engineering design and construction feat


  • The design not only adds to the interest of the internal space but also complements the functionality of the building, which needs to support the full range of processes involved in TV production.
  • The variable space and the continual loop structure make the building ideal for creating the desired interconnected sequence of activity, and provide a fitting new home for CCTV.
  • The facade mirrors the form of the structural braces.
  • The leaning towers and the interconnecting section created a real challenge in engineering terms and required an innovative approach to make the uniquely-shaped building possible.


  • The weight of the floor plates is taken by structural cores
  • The forces at the skin are distributed along diagrid skeleton.
  • The positioning of the columns and diagonal tubes on the exoskeleton reflects the distribution of forces in the surface skin of the building
  • Forms irregular pattern on the façade
  • Uses about 20% less steel compared to a single tower of similar area
  • For better appearance exoskeleton under a curtainwall layer

Significance in the Contemporary Scene:

  • An influential architect of the contemporary scene  – Aspiring, adventurous, visionary and innovative
  • Creates new precedent with ‘top down skyscraper’ for a ‘top down organisation’
  • New Concepts of architecture and structure. First instance of a loop form implemented for a building
  • Emphasis on exploiting present day materials
  • Brings in technology, structure as a key component in buildings
  • Rem Koolhaas has extended the boundaries of the possible through his radical designs


  • Deconstructivist? Structuralist? Late modernist?
  • Often criticized for lack of aesthetic consideration.
  • Simply architecture that wants to be different
  • Though a landmark, the boldness of the “twisted loop” is out of place in Beijing’s skyline and Chinese culture.


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