What The Demolition of OMA’s Netherlands Dance Theatre Says About Preservation in Architecture

What The Demolition of OMA's Netherlands Dance Theatre Says About Preservation in Architecture, OMA's Netherlands Dance Theatre was demolished at the end of last year. Image © Hans Werlemann via Metropolis Magazine
OMA’s Netherlands Dance Theatre was demolished at the end of last year. Image © Hans Werlemann via Metropolis Magazine

At the end of 2015, OMA’s first major commission, the Netherlands Dance Theater (NDT) was swiftly demolished. The once-praised building was reduced to dust and debris within a few months, without drawing much attention from the architecture world. Koolhaas had heard rumors about the demolition of the NDT over the last decade, but did not expect the lack of public outcry. “There was almost nothing, almost zero,” he said.

Using the NDT as a case study, Metropolis Magazine takes a look at how the early works of our most lauded architects are treated when they are no longer fit for purpose, and asks how we decide on the role preservation plays in the architectural profession. Is the demolition of the NDT a sign of lack of respect forOMA? Or is it a more general sign of our current era of rapidly changing styles and a need for larger buildings? Read the full story by Metropolis Magazine, here.

Spotlight: Jan Kaplický

via jan-kaplicky.com
via jan-kaplicky.com

Radical neofuturist architect Jan Kaplický (18 April 1937 – 14 January 2009) was the son of a sculptor and a botanical illustrator, and appropriately spent his career creating highly sculptural and organic forms. Working with partner Amanda Levete at his suitably named practice Future Systems, Kaplický was catapulted to fame after his sensationally avant-garde 1999 Lord’s Cricket Ground Media Centre and became a truly innovative icon of avant-garde architecture.

Selfridges at the Birmingham Bullring Centre, 2003. Image © Flickr user Bs0u10e0 licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0Lord's Cricket Ground Media Centre, 1999. Image © Flickr user jamiedfw licensed under CC BY 2.0Model of 2007's Czech National Library proposal. Image © Jan Kaplický+12

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© Jan Kaplický

© Jan Kaplický
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© Jan Kaplický

© Jan Kaplický

Beginning his career in Czechoslovakia, where he studied at the College of Applied Arts and Architecture and Design in Prague, Kaplický fled to London in the wake of the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and soon found himself working on the design for the Centre Georges Pompidou under Richard Rogersand Renzo Piano. Moving to Foster and Partners after Rogers and Piano relocated to Paris, he later set upFuture Systems in 1979, producing intricate and outlandish drawings of orbiting robots and homes transportable by helicopter.

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Hauer-King House, London, 1994. Image © Flickr user zongo licensed under CC BY 2.0

Hauer-King House, London, 1994. Image © Flickr user zongo licensed under CC BY 2.0
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Lord's Cricket Ground Media Centre, 1999. Image © Flickr user bensutherland licensed under CC BY 2.0

Lord’s Cricket Ground Media Centre, 1999. Image © Flickr user bensutherland licensed under CC BY 2.0

For the first decade of Future Systems’ existence these fantastical plans did not drive commissions for actual buildings, but built projects in the 1990s – including 1994’s Hauer-King House – supplied ever increasing amounts of attention to Kaplický’s elegantly radical projects, culminating in 1999’s Lord’s Media Centre and 2003’s Birmingham Selfridge’s at the Bullring Centre, the ultimate rejoinder to what was then Birmingham‘s reputation as a decaying concrete jungle.

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Spotlight: Jan Kaplický, Selfridges at the Birmingham Bullring Centre, 2003. Image © Flickr user Bs0u10e0 licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Selfridges at the Birmingham Bullring Centre, 2003. Image © Flickr user Bs0u10e0 licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
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Enzo-Ferrarai Museum, Modena, 2012. Image via Studio cento29

Enzo-Ferrarai Museum, Modena, 2012. Image via Studio cento29

Where other practitioners of high-tech and futuristic architecture have been accused of moderating their radicalism as they became increasingly commercial, Kaplický built on the media attention these projects gave him to propose and build a series of buildings just as outlandish or seemingly impractical as ever, including the Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari in Modena. Sadly, his proposal for the Czech National Library in 2007 – his first major project in his own country – was viewed as a step too far, and met with fierce opposition from the public and political class. He died without seeing it commissioned.

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