Rem Koolhaas, the brilliant, subversive force behind the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, has had a great run with Prada, functioning basically as the fashion label’s court architect. In 2001, there was a clever flagship store in SoHo (video here); then came an outlet in LA, an unrealized headquarters in San Francisco, and the exhibition design for a retrospective of Prada’s history. The next chapter opens next month: The so-called “Prada Transformer”, in Seoul, that is meant to be a shape-shifting cultural pavilion.
It’s basically a four-sided polyhedron, with a different shape on each face: A circle, a cross, a hexagon, and a square. Here’s where it gets interesting though. Using construction cranes, the structure can be rotated to rest on any of its four sides, thus creating a different space and floorplan for numerous functions, from a fashion show to a movie theater to an art show. The images here don’t quite do it justice. Check out the videos at the Prada Transformer’s website.
So far, the events will include a film series curated by Alejandro González Iñárritu—who directed Babel, 21 Grams, and Amores Perros—and Elvis Mitchell, the dreadlocked, globe-trotting former film-critic from The New York Times; and an exhibition of Prada’s fashion history which inaugurates the space on April 25. Further events are TBA.
If you’re of a critical mindset, you might be thinking: Why couldn’t OMA just create a modular set, with elements that could be wheeled in and out, depending on the event? Certainly, a space that you have to reconfigure with a construction crane seems like a lot of fuss. But Koolhaas really wanted to do is make the architecture itself into an event, rather than just a functional box. Mission accomplished.
Here’s a construction image; the structure still needs to be faced in an elastic skin: