Bookcase, by OMA

Rem Koolhaas/OMA - Beijing Books Building
Beijing Books Building (Copyright OMA)

Mecanoo - Central Library TU Delft, Detail Bookcase
Bookcase Central Library TU Delft

The Beijing Books Building (BBB) of OMAOle Scheeren uses the iconography of the bookcase. The facade is made of glass bricks that have a dubble function as bookcase. The users of the building alter the pixelated image of the building constantly when the take books out of the ‘bookshelves’ or place them back.

Rem Koolhaas/OMA - Beijing Books Building
Beijing Books Building (Copyright OMA)

Rem Koolhaas/OMA - Beijing Books Building
Beijing Books Building (Copyright OMA)

Rem Koolhaas/OMA - Beijing Books Building
Beijing Books Building (Copyright OMA)

The building itself is a fascinating tandem of the pixelated facade and an enormous lcd-screen at the entrance of the building. Two screens; one slowly animated by hand and with a low resolution, the other one fast animated electronically and with a high resolution. The two screens overlap in the sense that the lcd-screen presents events inside the building, and the facade-screen is a direct representation of the shopping-event.

I would argue that the Beijing Books building is one of the examples of recent work of OMA in which representation is back. Rem Koolhaas has argued in Delirious New York that the facade of a building like a skyscraper cannot represent its programme anymore. That argument came back in his Bigness essay, and his designs such as the Zeebrugge Cruise Terminal. But recently with the Seattle Public Library, the PCM Headquarters, and the Beijing Books Building there is a renewed interest in an abstract representation of the programme of the building.

U 2 - Vertigo Decor
Screen

The Beijing Books Building also refers to the cliché cinematic image of looking through a bookcase at a beautiful man or woman. The facade of the BBB is therefore coded with an image of flirt.

See through
Looking through

A different representation of ‘books’ in the facade is off course the National Library of France in Paris by Dominique Perrault. The four glass towers that frame the open courtyard represent four ‘open books’.

Dominique Perrault - National Library of France, Paris
Dominique Perrault - National Library of France, Paris

Is this all too vulgar? Livio di Marchi even built a house out of ‘books’.

Livio di Marchi - House
Livio de Marchi

At the ‘Content’ Exhibition about OMA in the Kunsthal in Rotterdam studymodels of the BBB were shown.

Rem Koolhaas/OMA - Beijing Books Building, at the 'Content' Exhibition (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Models of the Beijing Books Building (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

Rem Koolhaas/OMA - Beijing Books Building, at the 'Content' Exhibition (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)
Models of the Beijing Books Building (Photographer: Michiel van Raaij)

The project is added to the Themes and Representation pages.


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