Sunday, October 9, 2011

The CIAM Discourse on Urbanism ,1928-1960 - by Eric Mumford

I am quoting few lines from the book, which will give us inside into CIAM (Congrès internationaux d'architecture moderne)and the modern architecture movement .

i am quoting lines from forward to this book by Kenneth Frampton.

CIAM has long enjoyed a mystic status within the recieved history of twentieth century architecture. Commonly regarded after 1945 as an organization that was unduly dominated by sigfrie Giedion and Le Corbusier .

The idea of modern architecture includes the link between the phenomenon of architecture and that of the general economic system.

The inaugural congress of 1928 was attended by more than 20 architects from 8 european countries .Why certain leading architects of the weimer republic failed to attend remain a mystery ,above all Meis van der rohe ,walter groupis and eric mendelsohn. The absence of these liberal humanist left the field open to the more polemical basel based ABC group - Mart Stam , Hannes Mayer , and Hans schmidt- who insisted that a rigorous modern architecture must be contingent upon the broader issues of politics and economics and that ,far from distancing itself from the realities of the industrialized world, architecture must depend for its future quality not on craftsmanship but on the adoption of rationalized production methods.CIAM emphasized the need for standardization and a more equitable distribution of wealth in term of low-cost , mass housing . It advocated the introduction of normative dimensions and efficient production methods as a preliminary step towards a rationalization of building .Thus,what aesthetes would regard as a formal preference for regularity was for CIAM a prerequisite for increasing both quality and quantity by superseding the limited methods of traditional craftsmanship .

Monday, October 3, 2011

Casa Malaparte (A House Like Me)

Casa Malaparte (also Villa Malaparte) is a house on Punta Massullo, on the eastern side of the Isle of Capri, Italy. It is one of the best examples of Italian modern and contemporary architecture.

The house was conceived around 1937 by Italian Rationalist architect Adalberto Libera for Curzio Malaparte. Malaparte actually rejected Libera's design and built the home himself with the help of Adolfo Amitrano, a local stonemason.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

BCIL - Biodiversity consevation india limited

Chandrasekhar Hariharan, Founder, Biodiversity Conservation India Limited (BCIL)
by your story

Zero Energy Driven!of Biodiversity is an important global issue. And so while we dominate this planet we still need to preserve the biodiversity. Now there is a solution to this. This time we present a very unique and innovative venture Biodiversity Conservation India Limited(BCIL). YourStory had a conversation with Chandrasekhar Hariharan where he discussed his entrepreneurial journey.

Please tell us about BCIL?

As the name suggests, this is a company that strives for conservation of biodiversity in various forms beyond vegetation and forests into cultural diversity and urban lifestyles. Our mission objective is to mainstream sustainability with successful market acceptance among various constituents in the building industry in particular and among various other segments of industry at large. Our work extends to offering directions for energy efficiency beyond housing into buildings of every variety as well as industrial process efficiency.

What is your target audience?

Our clientele extends from homebuyers in various economic segments, to corporate
representative, who are looking for creating green buildings. It also includes professional and practicing engineers, architects, and other service consultants who seek to learn insights into the new green guidelines and parameters of performance efficiency for all varieties of buildings. The benefit for such people ranges from financial savings to health benefits [clean, pollen-free air, natural warm floors that’s great for asthmatics / rheumatism-afflicted, lack of chemical and
toxic materials being used in our patented processes for construction…. It also gives them the advantages of efficiencies in terms of both Cap Ex and Op Ex.

What basic idea do you follow?

At core, BCIL aims at demonstrating powerfully different methods of enhancing energy
efficiency in buildings. Our work emphasizes innovations in all the areas and elements of work that go into making any building. We strive to reduce carbon emission with planned reduction of energy use in our buildings that we create and design. We consult for companies on housing and commercial buildings. We also train and disseminate information on green building to young and old professionals.

Why is your venture unique?
The uniqueness of our design approaches is that it revolves around the central axis of a 6 strand strategy. Every building that we work on is created around the multiple implications of these 6-strands—energy (both embodied and actual), air, water, waste, earth material, and biomass or landscape planning. What distinguishes BCIL’s buildings is that they offer lower running cost for occupants in terms of energy or water that is needed to run the buildings,regardless of whether they are homes or offices.The other USP is that these buildings that we create reduce as much as 50% on carbon emission of the building. The buildings are cooler. BCIL’s buildings don’t use bricks nor concrete blocks, or clay blocks or clay tiles, since they are high on use of fertile top soil. We very nearly don’t use vitrified and ceramic tiles for the high embodied energy such tiles consume. Our structural engineering is far more efficient and reduces use of concrete. We do not use toxic
paints. We don’t need water from the grid supply. We need only 40% of energy from the grid.No waste is exported from any of our housing projects. We do not use chemicals even for waterproofing compounds or for swimming pool water treatment, or for all plants and trees wevegetate. We do not use regular conventional floors. We do not use deep borewells for supplying water for our housing colonies and enclaves, while we ensure that there is 24/7 water supply. We do not use incandescent bulbs or halogens or regular tubelights. We do not use mortar for our construction of walls. We do not use pure cement for any of our structural building work.There are many more such unique factors that make our buildings sustainable in terms of planet
resources, while not compromising comfort and convenience for the customer. Effectively this means that we do not need the grid and state infrastructure for power, water, and waste. Our air-conditioning is free of HFC and HCFC or other ozone-depleting substances.

Please tell us something about your entrepreneurial journey?

My constant drive for innovation and for definitive impact on communities in terms of lower eco footprint was a drive that has remained with me for 20 years. When I did not find the right organization to work with and fulfill these basic professional drives of mine, I decided to create one! Entrepreneurship is not something that comes naturally to me. It is thanks to hard work,dedication and commitment from many professional colleagues who have had the joy of traveling with me on this unique journey.Initially we had no seed capital! In October ’94 I borrowed Rs 1 lakh and paid it as advance for a land of 41 acres which I bought at 97 lakhs. I did not know how I will pay the rest of the money while a small group of four of us had the confidence that we had the right set of homes to offer on paper to people who will trust us and pay the initial advance amount. We started in January
‘95 and began a long haul to completion of that first residential enclave called Trans Indus in Bangalore.We only had our deep conviction that there was a value that we were offering which could be seen by some farsighted individuals who aspired to have homes. The process was long and took five years for that first project. From then on we picked up momentum over the four years.The last five years has been a story of many ups and downs, but we have set our course on achieving urban sustainability and have not strayed from it. Our focus on water and energy leading to quality of life has remained steadfast and unchanged. That has been our seed
capital!It has been a long and hard journey, but it has had its rewards even if they have been slow in coming. Today with the extended base of people as professionals, we have a greater and more confident role to play into the future.

Any challenges so far?

I am myself personally the biggest challenge for the organization! My ability to understand my own self and my limitation and strengths will in turn get me to grow the trust and confidence of the professionals who drive the company’s initiative. I wish I can overcome such challenges of my own inherent limitations in certain areas of understanding organizational development.There has been no major external big challenge that we have not surmounted in the past. At the worst times, I have learnt to offer bad news to people who have to receive it. I don’t wait for them to know it from others. That has always helped me, for people see the earnest and sincerity, and are willing to partner you through a difficult phase or crisis.

What mistakes did you make initially?

In the early years we did not professionalize the company and build the middle organization.Money was always a challenge, so we couldn’t recruit enough people. There were not enough trained minds who were willing to work on just passion and tea! If we had overcome that challenge in the beginning, we would have grown faster.
There are many battles that are lost but if you keep your objectives in sight, you will win the war.That has kept me and our colleagues determined.

What is the present scenario of BCIL?

We have grown from that borrowed Rs. 1 lakh to a stage where we are now creating about over 200 homes in the next two years at two residential projects that that company is promoting, and about 4500 homes that we are guiding other major builders to create with green guidelines.We have grown to about 150 people and have about 1500 virtual workers who create our projects on an outsourced basis. Our projects today are in Bangalore, Goa, Chennai, Mangalore and Mysore. We hope to be extending our influence in green buildings to other cities over the next two years.

Whats in the future of BCIL?

Our vision for the future is to build the team with greater depth of leadership so that an organizational legacy can be firmly put into place, to complete two projects that are currently under way and which are ambitious in their higher thresholds of sustainability, to impact more buildings with our green directions and strategic interventions across India and the world.

What has been the biggest achievement for BCIL? Any moment of Recognition for it?

Our demonstrated success with business viability of many sustainable design and technologies is our single big achievement in the last 15 years. As far as the recognition are considered we are humbled by the global and national acclaim that we have received in the last 5 years after our initial phase of completion of the first three or four projects. When proof of concept was visible, with energetic endorsement from our clients, recognition came easier. We have won 6 awards from 5 countries in just the last three years. We have won about 14 awards in the last 6
years from institutions as varied and diverse as the CII, the Institution of Economic Studies, The Asian Development Bank, the IGES in Japan, Ademe in Paris, and many others. We were recently awarded the San Diego based Core Net Global Award which was given to only four projects in the world! We received the Realty Plus award for excellence in April 2010. We have been nominated for many advisory boards in the center as well as in state governments for them to learn policy directions from our accomplishments.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for the coming entrepreneurs and how can
they overcome it?

The government is the single biggest challenge. Getting clearances for any idea you want to promote is not easy. People will be your next big challenge and if you have got the right team in place you can overcome your financial challenges. But I would like to advice them that don’t strike out on your own if you do not have the strength to persist and persevere in the face of failures. Do not chase money in your professional pursuits, and yet constantly think of costs!That’ll offer a key to success. Trust your people and build your strengths along with the team.

Friday, November 26, 2010

World's first business of architecture degree launched

The world’s first architectural masters degree combining design with management has been launched by a Spanish university in collaboration with the Royal College of Art and New London Architecture.

The 13-month programme, which begins in February, will be taught in English both online and with face-to-face periods in London and at IE University’s business campus in Madrid. The RCA’s department of Innovation Design Engineering is providing studio space and teachers for the UK element.

Aimed at young independent architecture professionals and employees or partners it is intended to bridge the gap between advanced design and business management.

Javier Quintana de Ua, dean of IE School of Architecture, said: “Throughout the modern history of architecture, there has existed the noble if naive perception that the best design came from artists whose practice remained untouched by the imperatives of business or finance.

“However, contemporary practice has proven that while design excellence is very necessary it is not sufficient to perform with success. Most architects are, in fact, entrepreneurs and vocational designers who face business responsibilities without the right training.”

He said highlights would include the chance to meet architects who combine design excellence with business success.

Guest speakers during the programme will include architects from Foster & Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects, Snohetta, SOM, David Chipperfield Architects and Kristine Fallon.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Architect Norman Foster - TED

Architect Norman Foster discusses his own work to show how computers can help architects design buildings that are green, beautiful and "basically pollution-free." He shares projects from throughout his career, from the pioneering roof-gardened Willis Building (1975) to the London Gherkin (2004). He also comments on two upcoming megaprojects: a pipe to bring water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, and the new Beijing airport.

via - Architecture linked

OMA Museum Plaza

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Realty firms betting big on low -rise floors

Real estate developers in the national capital region are banking on low - rise independent floors to induce customers into buying homes .The developers are able to offer these homes at lower prices,almost 30% lower than a typical multi-storey apartment .A significantly lower maintenance cost for these homes is also buyers.

Realty companies,including BPTP ,Emaar MGF ,Ansal API, have together sold close to 7000 homes in NCR in the past three months ,as per the executives of these companies .BPTP had sold over 5,500 low rise independent floors homes in a project in Faridabad in May .

As per an Emmar MGF spokesperson ,the company sold a thousand homes in this segment in gurgoan last month .
"Many people ,especially in NOrth India ,still prefer low rise and independent floors .They are not very comfortable using lifts and feel safer in low - rise homes ," says Kunal Banerjee , executive director ,TDI ,a reality firm that will launch 400 such homes next week in kundali in NCR .TDI is offering homes for a price of Rs 17.5 lakhs for 810 Sqft to Rs 26.5 lakhs for 1100 Sqft built up area .

via The Economic Times

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cisco Rolls Out Building Management ‘Mediator’

Cisco Systems is rolling out technology to integrate the world of proprietary building automation systems into its overall platform for managing energy use by building HVAC, lighting and other systems.

Cisco Systems is delivering early on its promise to bring entire building energy management systems under its control. That's a $12 billion market over the next three years or so, it thinks – but it won't be taking it on alone.

The networking giant announced the availability of its Network Building Mediator, a device that connects HVAC, lighting, security and other electricity-using building systems into its EnergyWise platform.
you can read the whole arcticle here

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Kitchen Designs

We at cubanheat designs are designing kitchen . i am blogging few one then i really liked .

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Lavasa lake city

Hill-station tourism is not new for Indians who enjoy the cold weather at locations such as Darjeeling, Shimla, Ooty or Nainital during Summer. These towns, for over 100 years, have been looked at as India’s prime hill stations necessarily promoted and developed by the British rulers.

Over the next 10 years, another name might well be added to this list, which is 12,500-acre huge ‘Lavasa lake city’, being developed by Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) near Pune within the Western Ghat ranges. Promoted as free India’s first planned hill station, Lavasa lake city, will be ready as a complete town with a population of 1.5 lakh.

Being developed in accordance with the controversial Hill Station policy passed by the Maharashtra government, the Lavasa lake city, has attracted opposition right from day one. However, the developers have now overcome all the difficulties and socio-political hurdles, as the first phase of this Rs 40,000-crore project is nearing completion. The city is coming up on eight huge hillocks that surround the illongated Varasgaon dam backwaters to ensure excellent natural habitat for the city.

Lavasa is not a township or a huge real-estate project such as the Sahara group’s Amby Valley. It is a complete town that is self sufficient and meets residential and living needs of poor, middle-class and elite people. The hill station itself will create more than 50,000 jobs over the next 10 years. Hence, citizens residing here can enjoy the walk to work lifestyle,” said Lavasa Corporation President Rajgopal Nogja.

Lavasa is planned in four phases out of which, the first phase titled ‘Davse’ will be operational from 2010 with almost 1,000 villas and 500 apartments. The development of phase-II will begin next year and the same would be ready by 2014. The third and fourth phases would be ready by 2017 and 2021, respectively. “We are managing the Rs 40,000 crore investment through equity, debts and internal accurals as of now. We will come out with an IPO at an appropriate time,” Nogja added.

Considering Pune city’s identity as the next information technology (IT) hub, the developers have already working towards getting a number of IT firms to have development centres within Lavasa. In addition to this, prominent educational barrons such as Symbiosis, Oxford University and a number of other prominent institutions are setting up their campuses here. Names such as Apollo Hospitals, Accor developers, Grand Mercure Hotel and Spa, ITC, Inistitute of International Business Relations-Germany, University of Berlin along with National School of Hotel Management-Kolkata will all be at Lavasa to serve citizens.

The benefit that Lavasa enjoys over other similar projects is its pricing. There is a wide range of investment options at Lavasa beginning with studio apartments worth Rs 16 lakh to villas worth Rs 8-10 crore. “We are also creating small localities for people who will work here as workers, sweepers and maids,” he added.

has already signed electricity supply agreements with power-starved Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MSEDCL) and Tata Power Company Ltd while it will pump water from Varasgaon dam, which is mainly responsible for Pune city’s water supply. “Lavasa pays the irrigation department for actual consumption of water. However, through several dams and check dams, we would be adding 0.9 TMC (thousand million cubic ft) water to the Varasgaon reservoir. Lavasa will consume approximately 0.5 TMC of water. Therefore, a surplus of 0.4 TMC water would be added to the Varagaon dam,” Nogja claimed.

Like all major projects, Lavasa too has landed into a number of controversies. There have been allegations of forceful land acquisition, construction of dams within Varasgaon dam, the company's close relationship with politcos like union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and the probable environmental hazards it might cause in future. Activist Medha Patkar had recently launched agitations at Lavasa demanding a CBI inquiry of land deals at Lavasa saying, land-owners were duped and not rehabilitated by the company using political influence.

Pawar's influence on this projects was obvious as his daughter and Rajya Sabha MP Supriya Sule along with his close associates Vitthal Maniar and Aniruddha Deshpande jointly owned more than 15 per cent stake in Lavasa Lake City. In the wake of agitations and controversies, Sule as well as Deshpande sold their stakes while Maniar continues to hold 6 per cent stake in the project. “Apart from Maniar, the ownership lies with HCC real estate (65%), Venkateshwara Hatcheries (13%) and Avantha Group (16%),” Nogja stated. “Lavasa is a privately developed hill station as per government rules and there is no participation of politicians,” he concluded.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mentoring 2.0

The next generation of interior designers may be unlike any before it. But interior design firms are crafting new, inventive mentoring methods to develop the skills of younger designers.
By B.G. Yovovich

Make no mistake: Major changes are forcing businesses of all kinds to reshape their mentoring tactics in an effort to attract, retain and nurture the design leaders of the future. First of importance is the workplace significance of the more than 70 million Millennials (those born beginning in 1977 who make up Generation Y) who have already begun to enter the workforce as the first of 78 million Baby Boomers head toward retirement. Secondly are the major differences in values, attitudes and behaviors between Millennials and the generations preceding them.

“Everyone is going to have to face this: The Baby Boomers are going to retire, and the Generation X population is roughly two-thirds the size of the Baby Boomer population. Millennials are fast becoming an influential factor in the workplace and an increasingly important part of its future,” says W. Stanton Smith, National Director of the Cross- Generation Initiatives at Deloitte & Touche USA LLP. “There are huge numbers of people moving toward retirement, and very little has been done to preserve their knowledge.”

But turn in any direction and you can see clear signs of how the design community is responding to the distinctive challenges of coaching Millennials.

In San Diego, Viveca Bissonnette, IIDA, LEED AP, Associate at Carrier Johnson + CULTURE and IIDA Vice President of Communications, makes it a point to provide the firm’s younger designers with the steady stream of “timely feedback and performance evaluations that Millennials find especially important.”

Celia Barrett, IIDA, ASID, Principal of Celia Barrett Design LLC in Jackson, Miss., is an adjunct professor at Mississippi College School of Fine Arts. She emphasizes the need for students and young designers to improve their drawing skills, which she says are often under-developed.

Farther north, more than 80 percent of the managers at HOK Canada, recently named one of Canada’s top 100 employers by Mediacorp Canada, have completed an ambitious firm-wide program “designed to train all of our managers to have better coaching skills,” says Lara Koretsky, HR Manager of Consulting, who works out of the Toronto office of the architecture and interior design firm. “It is an important step in helping us build a mentoring culture.”


Fortunately, as a group, Millennials tend to be very receptive to mentoring opportunities. “Millennials seem more trusting of senior leaders than Baby Boomers and Gen Xers were, and they are very willing to be coached and mentored by those with experience,” Smith says.

Part of Millennials’ willingness to be mentored stems from their oft-noted self-confidence and lofty aspirations. Says Bissonnette, “Young designers coming into the workforce today have more expectations and higher aspirations for themselves, a quality instilled in them by their Baby Boomer parents who told them they could do anything.

This new generation of workers also has more expectations of their employers than previous generations. They want to know they are on the professional path to success, and they are looking for guidance from employers to help them get there.”

But despite Millennials’ striking confidence and great expectations, they often have a heightened “need for reassurance,” Bissonnette says. “One interesting thing about this generation is that they are looking for validation, and they constantly are looking for feedback.”

Adds Smith, “They really don’t want to make mistakes. As a consequence, they seek continuous feedback, and they will respond positively to it.”


This Gen Y desire for frequent evaluations and ongoing communication puts increased demands on those who try to mentor them. The need to meet those demands is a big reason why, for example, HOK launched its mentoring and coaching initiative about two years ago.

“Communication is the No. 1 skill on which we focus to improve managers’ coaching and mentoring skills,” HOK’s Koretsky says. A key component of the program is an approach dubbed SBI, which stands for “Situation, Behavior and Impact.” The initiative is intended to help mentors do a better job of providing ongoing, targeted feedback to their mentees.

“The idea is to help the coach to focus on the specific situation that has occurred, the behavior that was displayed within the situation and the impact of that behavior,” Koretsky says. “The point is to go beyond just telling them what they did wrong or just saying, ‘Good job.’”

The final step in the SBI approach is to “always finish off the piece of feedback with a bridging statement that allows the individual to respond and leaves an opening for continuing the conversation,” Koretsky says. “The aim is to have a dialogue, not a one-way communication.”

These communication tools are especially important when difficult conversations or discussions of performance are needed. Says Koretsky, “When you are about to begin a performance conversation that is not going to be easy, you can start by saying, ‘We have a difficult conversation ahead of us,’ and laying out the specific framework and being transparent about it.”


Today’s mentoring efforts respond to distinctive Millennial characteristics in other ways, as well.

At Gensler, the architecture and design firm has taken steps to address “Millennials’ particular trigger points,” says Janine Pesci, the firm-wide Director of Learning. “Millennials feel like they need to frequently change jobs in order to develop new skills, so we are creating an environment in which they are frequently exposed to opportunities within our own organization to get that experience without having to leave us.”

These types of inside-the-firm skill-development opportunities can have a significant impact on employee retention.

“Millennials have a desire for a long-term relationship with their employer,” says Smith. “These young people, unlike even 10 years ago, very much would prefer to have multiple careers within one employer.”

Another Millennial trait that employers must keep top-of-mind: They are, as a group, social-beings. To address this point, Gensler has developed a “Rising Professionals” peer-to-peer networking initiative. The program was begun in the firm’s D.C. office by a group of young professionals who saw the need to share ideas about professional development. The idea soon spread throughout the firm. The program also involves an event called “Power Portfolios,” whereby the firm’s young professionals assess the portfolios of design students and offer feedback. “[Rising Professionals] taps into the Millennial mindset of wanting to work through social networks,” Pesci says. “We know that they like to work in tribes, so we look for ways to create opportunities for teamwork, social interaction and collaboration.”

HOK also recognizes the importance of encouraging greater interaction with Millennials. “We have studio critiques every week in our main studio space or library that give opportunities to people from every level of the organization to give presentations about the projects on which they are working,” says Keri Daniel, HR Manager of Programs and Organizational Development at HOK Canada. In addition to serving as a forum for sharing information about projects, these get-togethers also provide a channel for firm-wide interaction and make it easier for Millennials to develop relationships with senior professionals that can lead to mentoring opportunities.


Perhaps one of the top benefits of a successful mentoring program: “Reverse mentoring,” or junior-to-senior guidance, can be just as effective.Says Smith, “Reverse mentoring is one way to stay on top of rapid changes in technology and how they are being applied.” Pesci cites the example of one young designer with whom she works. “I am mentoring her on her professional career, and she is mentoring me on technology,” she says.

More generally, says Smith, “through their willingness to question established procedures and make suggestions, young people also can help us to identify longtime practices that no longer are effective and that need to be changed.”

Really interesting arcticle how new generation of architects and interior design is moving forward. This article was published in IIDA

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Rem Koolhaas Builds

article New York Times Magazine By ARTHUR LUBOW

Before he could build, Rem Koolhaas wrote. Now that buildings of his design are cropping up everywhere, he continues to write. "In my own mind, I am as much a writer as an architect," he says.

An architect of Koolhaas's far-reaching ambition might plausibly prefer sitting at his desk to building in concrete. Remaining within the realm of his own imagination, he need not worry about pesky clients who can dilute a project into mediocrity. But, in fact, part of what Koolhaas likes about architecture is the chance to mesh gears with a client. When I asked him if he would consider designing a house for himself, he replied that the idea bored him. "It would feel too solipsistic," he said. "The whole point of architecture is the engagement with the other. So there wouldn't be any sparks."

Koolhaas, 55, is in the business of making sparks. Last month, at a meeting in his New York hotel room, I watched him review the mock-up of a book on shopping, which he produced with Harvard graduate students in a research seminar that he directs. (They meet about every three weeks.) The book had been redesigned since he last saw it. He was not happy. "It's so sedate now," he said as he rapidly turned the pages. "This was supposed to be something with real tension, a kind of schizophrenia where you say something and see another, and now it's too parallel and neat. It's lost an aggressive, invasive quality that it had in the beginning." He delivered all this talk of tension, invasion, aggression and schizophrenia in a polite monotone that barely rose above a murmur.

Koolhaas was an hour and a half late to the meeting, having been detained at a conference on modern architecture at the Guggenheim Museum, where he was a star speaker. "I couldn't sneak out early because they were discussing my work," he said apologetically. These days, Koolhaas's work seems to be constantly under discussion and, even more gratifying to him, under construction. Whereas in the past his cutting-edge designs rarely advanced beyond the model stage, Koolhaas's current commissions include a concert hall in Porto, Portugal; the Seattle Public Library; a student center on the Illinois Institute of Technology campus; three U.S. stores for Prada, the Italian fashion house; and the Dutch Embassy in Berlin. His office is also collaborating with the Basel firm of Herzog & de Meuron on a luxury hotel in downtown New York for Ian Schrager, whose holdings include the Mondrian in Los Angeles and the Delano in Miami.

Koolhaas is at the forefront of what has become arguably the most exciting branch of culture. The wild critical and commercial success of Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Bilbao has made it clear that in architecture, unlike any other art form, the critics' favorites are also the public's favorites. People are flocking to Bilbao to see the building, not its contents; in Berlin, Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum doesn't even have any contents -- the exhibits have not yet been installed -- but the powerful structure is drawing unanticipated throngs. Suddenly, every city wants its own knockout piece of modern architecture. Koolhaas recalls competing for the commission for a new museum of modern art in Rome. "The director said, 'We need a building that does for Rome what the Guggenheim did for Bilbao,"' he recounts. "That is a staggering statement, because Rome doesn't need to be put on the map."

Koolhaas, despite his professed admiration for Gehry, is uncomfortable with buildings that, like the Guggenheim Bilbao, seduce by dazzling. He wants to arrive at beauty as a byproduct, not the goal, of the design process. He is suspicious of the wow factor. "I like to do things that on first sight have a degree of simplicity but show their complexity in the way they are used or at second glance," he says. Although he is not a pop-culture celebrity on the order of Gehry, within his profession Koolhaas is the more influential figure -- because he writes as provocatively as he designs and because his innovative style, unlike Gehry's metallic whorls, has not solidified into a one-of-a-kind signature. "We are flamboyant conceptually, but not formally," Koolhaas says. His firm is known for thoroughly researching and radically addressing a client's needs; this cerebral approach to design undergirds all of his work.

"His intellectual view is a lot more accessible to younger architects coming out," Gehry says. "I look at my work as personal. I'm not trying to create a school." Of Koolhaas's intellect, Gehry says: "He's capable of challenging everything. He's one of the great thinkers of our time." Adding immeasurably to Koolhaas's reputation as a writer is his proven prowess as a builder. His volleys are coming from within the fortress. "When he says that design is not necessary or it's a value not to have it -- if he said all of that and I thought he was an apologist for his own inadequacies, that would be a fascinating position for some mad charlatan," Gehry says. "But it's not about that, because he can do it."

Koolhaas projects the calm of opposing forces held in balance. Although he is mobbed like a rock star at lectures, he disdains the auteur theory of architecture. "It is an insult to me, as well as to the others, to make it all seem like just my work," he says. "If I pride myself on one thing, it is a talent to collaborate." Conspicuously rejecting individual primacy, he gave his Rotterdam firm a blandly anonymous name, Office for Metropolitan Architecture (with the typically droll twist that the acronym OMA means "grandmother" in his native Dutch). This garb of humility, however, barely disguises his estimate of his own abilities. Indeed, if his denunciation of the cult of personality has only enhanced his own mystique, that is the sort of contradiction that he relishes.

Physically, he is a model of functionalism. He is thin, as if to reduce resistance. His aquiline nose, extended ears and penetrating eyes ensure that nothing can escape him. His long legs allow him to outpace the pack. But basically, his body is just a delivery system for his mind. Like Le Corbusier, Koolhaas has the double-barreled power to write brilliant, provocative essays and to design surprising and satisfying spaces. Young architects revere him -- in large part because he has refused to ossify or settle down. "At a certain point, certain architects begin to capitalize on their success, to kind of do it again, rather than look to new territory," says Terence Riley, a curator at the Museum of Modern Art. "I've never seen Rem attracted to that. Instead, there is an unbelievable willingness to keep the thing as a series of new questions. When kids go to a lecture by Rem, they come out with questions, not answers." Koolhaas energetically cultivates his renegade persona, not such an easy task as he attracts grander commissions and prizes. When he confided in March that he was about to be proclaimed the winner of architecture's highest honor, the Pritzker Prize, he relayed the news with a shrug that approached annoyance.

As behooves a superarchitect, Koolhaas travels as often as a supermodel. (He stays in hotels so often that he is excited to be involved in designing one himself: "It is the typology I have experienced most in my life.") His commissions are divided about equally between Europe and the United States. His life in Europe is also divided about equally between an airy apartment in North London, which he occupies mainly on weekends with his wife, the artist Madelon Vriesendorp, and a workweek centered on his Rotterdam office and often shared with his other female companion, Petra Blaisse, an Amsterdam-based designer of interiors and gardens. (He and Vriesendorp have a daughter, 23, and a son, 20.) Vriesendorp's quirky illustrations grace Koolhaas's first book, "Delirious New York," while Blaisse has long held chief responsibility for Koolhaas's curtains, landscaping and exhibition installations. For the Netherlands Dance Theater, constructed in The Hague in 1984, Blaisse did the interiors while Vriesendorp designed an exterior mural.

"Part of the whole thing in London is it's a place away from the office, so I'm protected from the daily invasion," Koolhaas says. "I can do nothing." In the London flat, Vriesendorp's ebullience is on view everywhere -- for example, in a fish motif that recurs on the shower curtain, on the tablecloth and in a puppet that is sailing through the kitchen-door transom -- everywhere, that is, except for Koolhaas's spare, white, book-lined, high-ceilinged studio.

When asked about his domestic equipoise between Vriesendorp and Blaisse, Koolhaas slips into the counterbalanced syntax that distinguishes Rem-speak: "It's all about facets and a kind of extension of territory, not in terms of claiming but in terms of exploration." Refusing to be tied down to one place or person is also a way of defying gravity. Just as he does in his architecture, Koolhaas welcomes tension into the structure of his life. Other people adjust. "I always feel that he is a plug and the whole world is full of sockets," says Vriesendorp, a striking-looking woman with silver hair, sharp blue eyes -- and a talent for blunt metaphors. "He has chosen different sockets in different worlds. It will always be sensitive, because there will always be competition between different sockets. Everything in his life that seems functional gets everyone around him in hysterics." Koolhaas has manufactured a form for his life that radically rethinks convention to accommodate his requirements. The stress lines are visible. And that sums up both his design for living and his design philosophy.