blog/koolhaaslg.jpgRem Koolhaas will participate in Saturday’s 2012 Wish List debate, which is great. This got us thinking: how will the architect shape London in the next five years? Excluding the inevitable mass of projects he’ll likely be offered between now and then, we’re reminded of his Office for Metropolitan Architecture’s master plan for West London’s White City, 43 acres of vacant land between London and Heathrow.

OMA won a competition to design the area in 2004 and has since been involved in an apparently drawn-out design and development process. The site, which Koolhaas described as one of the last large undeveloped areas in London in an interview with icon magazine two years ago, is owned by a consortium of developers.

Groups of powerful landowners allow development on a scale seldom realized by a single client, and can either serve or ignore surrounding communities. Such developments beg the question of whether patchwork cities can avoid mega-developments by virtue of their smaller scale lots. While OMA’s design seems to avoid problems associated with scale (which Koolhaas alluded to in a speech delivered to CABE in January 2006), what of the designs of a less context-sensitive firm? Collective private sector-led development resulted in Canary Wharf, which should be argument enough against its efficacy, and yet developers working independently may generate a messy and disorganized urban space.

The project is both contentious and complex, and will appear in the Tate Modern’s Global Cities exhibition concurrently on display in the Turbine Hall. Hopefully Koolhaas will include mention of the project in the debate.

Posted by: Jaffer Kolb on 19/06/07



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