Who is a more experimental and challenging architect, Koolhaas or Herzog and De Meuron?


I am asking this question because I watched a lecture by Jacques Herzog where he said that they are the most experimental firm right now. That made me wonder what Koolhaas position is on this because I have seen many of his buildings and they are really experimental and innovative. So, the question comes from here. I think that Koolhaas is an architect who can compete with H&dM about designing challenging and experimental buildings. Therefore, I just want to know your opinion about this. At the same time, I know that there are other architects who also make interesting architecture in that way. But who is the most influential architect?

Apr 9, 13 7:16 pm



Apr 9, 13 7:23 pm

Why do you think that?

Apr 9, 13 7:47 pm

Herzog & de Meuron

If this isn't experimental, I don't know what is.

Unintentional, though.

Apr 10, 13 5:51 am

OK. I understand that and I can see it in their work. But, from here comes my question: How would you define Koolhaas' Architecture if it is not as experimental as H&dM? 

Apr 10, 13 10:25 am

Define what is meant by experimental.

Frankly, I find HdM's collection of work to be more varied and diverse than OMA's. Doesn't necessarily mean it's more experimental though.

Apr 10, 13 11:52 am

Experimental as in mad scientist, of course.

Apr 10, 13 6:16 pm

They are both very experimental, but they deal with different stuff. It depends what do you prefer. HdM experiment with materials and technology, leaving experiment outside, on the facade and appearance. OMA/ Koolhaas experiment with program and function of the building. They try to find new relationships between spaces, make building function different, better? than architects used to do it before them. Of course it's not black and white, sometimes they try also other things, but mostly it's like this..

If you want to understand more, I suggest you to check

1) HdM Allianz arena- they experimented with PTFE facade
2) HdM Prada- dealing with glass facade

3) Koolhaas- Seattle library- they reinvented organization of library into spiral
4) Koolhaas- CCTV building- organizing program of skyscraper as a loop

If you combine both qualities, you are next superstar architect, simple as that! :-)

Apr 10, 13 7:38 pm

What I mean by Experimental Architecture, is architecture concern with the development of conceptual projects that challenge conventional and consolidated practices. Its main objective is to explore original paths of thought and develop innovative design tools and methodologies.  In my opinion, Koolhaas has a lot of interesting concepts in his architecture but I feel that He does not have the same delicacy and elegance as Herzog and de Meuron have at their work. 

Apr 10, 13 7:38 pm




Your argument is completely right. I completely agree with you. If an architect would have those two qualities. You would be a extremely good architect. But I also feel that HdM try to deal with other things because look at their tower in NYC or Bird's nest in Beijing. They are trying to deal more with the facade. 

Apr 10, 13 7:43 pm

i like how camaro put it...oma is experimental with function and program while hdm are experimental with technology and facade.

in your opinion, are there any other categories in which other starchitects can be pigeonholed?

i find this an interesting exercise in understanding contemporary architecture

Apr 11, 13 4:23 am

H&DME in my books... Almost every project of theirs is experimental and fresh in a way.. may not be new, but they do it like its never been done before.


Koolhaas is getting boring and seems like he is running out of ideas.. He's become very predictable but still getting commission because he's well respected for his writings

Apr 11, 13 5:29 am

Koolhaas - experimental but meh


              Cantilevering house in Paris

              Seattle Library

H&DMe - experimental, well executed and proof that god is in the details  ;)

            Ricola factory
            SBB switchtower, Basel, Switzerland
            Dominus winery, Napa Valley, California
            Tate Modern, Bankside, London, UK
            Prada Flagship store
            M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, California
            Allianz Arena football stadium, Munich
            Beijing National Stadium, Beijing, China
            CaixaForum Madrid, Madrid, Spain
            VitraHaus, Weil am Rhein, Germany
            Parrish Art Museum, Watermill, New York

Apr 11, 13 5:40 am

^ Which of the above projects address energy consumption, sustainable materials and critical social factors?

The Parrish is a complete disaster. A perfect example of the triumph of money and ego over intelligence and responsibility. NO solar power, no sustainable landscape, a building designed to leak, poor flow, inefficient spaces, lack of support facilities, poor programming, high cost construction, etc. I won't even get into the style, or the manner in which the project was designed and built (which shit upon the local economy).

People read some idiot critic's glowing write-up, written as if he were on the payroll of the architectural firm that designed it, without even the most basic understanding of building function, and think they've seen the messiah.

Architectural schools produce more brainless idiot wannabes per pound that cows do manure.

That should rattle a few windows.

Apr 11, 13 10:17 am

loll says the 'Principal' who actually has time to surf Archinect and follow posts by 'brainless idiot wannabes'.  I think we have a different understanding of 'Architect'.. might be confusing an architect with that engineer/contractor who builds efficient square industrial buildings xP

Apr 11, 13 1:12 pm

^ hahahaha .... well played

acceskb : killing contractors visions of efficient square industrial buildings since 2011...

Apr 11, 13 5:02 pm

Question too tough for you, access?

Which of the above projects address energy consumption, sustainable materials and critical social factors?

Or are those not factors to be considered when discussing experimental and innovative.

One would think there is at least some potential for discussion on this matter among such an astute and highly educated bunch.

Apr 11, 13 7:27 pm

too easy

Apr 11, 13 9:14 pm

Whips out LEED checklist.

Stormwater Design, Quality Control..................................check
Heat Island Effect, Green Roof......................................check
Water Efficient Landscaping, Reduce by 50%..........................check
Water Use Reduction, 30% Reduction..................................check
Enhanced Refrigerant Management.....................................check
Regional Materials, 10% Extracted, Processed & Manufactured ........check
Rapidly Renewable Materials.........................................check
Certified Wood......................................................check
Outdoor Air Delivery Monitoring.....................................check
Increased Ventilation...............................................check
Low-Emitting Materials, Paints & Coatings...........................check
Low-Emitting Materials, Carpet Systems..............................check
Controllability of Lighting Systems.................................check
Daylight & Views, Daylight 75% of Spaces............................check


hahaha    Don't you love when people assume and start grilling architects because their 'primary' design didn't revolve around sustainability or some critical social factor.. (its always assumed the issue was ignored because it wasn't in the forefront of discussion).  To think that most architects don't bother thinking about them is a huge mistake.  The usual culprits are often ones who have no idea what an architectural education involves today, or those that have little to do in this 'architectural' profession (hint: engineers/contractors/green advocates etc). Anyone who's had an architectural education understand the plethora of issues that influence design.. Sustainability or some social issue is just one of the factors that shape every design project to some degree.  Though it may not be talked about, its not some issue that just popped up in our generation.  Architects and theorists like Vitruvius to Palladio, and manifestos since antiquity have always touched on it.  These are issues grilled into the back of every architectural student's mind today.

Expand your mind.. That is all I'm saying.  Architecture isn't only about sustainability or some social issue.  A project could've been shaped by a multitude of issues, some more pressing than others.  Being left out of discussions doesn't mean it was secondary or brushed aside entirely.

Apr 12, 13 7:12 am

access, cutting and pasting the LEED checklist here doesn't answer the question any more than vapid references to manifestos since antiquity do.

Architecture is not "only about sustainability or some social issue" any more than it is "only" about sculptural form. In these times sustainability is a critical aspect of everything we do. And every architectural project is social engineering whether it is intended to be or not.

Chest-thumping egotists like Herzog and other heroes to fawning architecture fanboys and starchitect wannabes have an even larger responsibility as role models to address these and other issues critical not only to the profession but to the future as well.

Apr 12, 13 12:33 pm

Herzog est le fruit de sa propre imagination. Mes projets sont tellement expérimental et difficile que ils ne sont pas construits.

Apr 13, 13 11:26 pm
Erik Evens (EKE)

"we're more experimental"

"no, we're more experimental than you."

"no way, we experiment much more than anybody"

"don't be silly, look at this experimental building, it's very, very experimental"

... etc.

Apr 14, 13 11:02 am

Tnx wahahauhu and piero1910! :-)

Apr 11, 13 4:23 am

in your opinion, are there any other categories in which other starchitects can be pigeonholed?

I think answer to this is written on Pritzker Prize medal, it says: firmness, commodity and delight (Vitruvius), what is something like construction, function and form. So we spoke about function (Koolhaas) and form/appearance (HdM), so you can also be good in construction, but today we leave this field too much to engineers because most of us don't have enough knowledge to experiment in this field- maybe Calatrava is good example to cover this field.

Speaking of sustainability, everybody knows it's important, and their new projects include this, but nobody speaks so much about it, because it's not intereseting that much . It's a technology thing, you don't invent anything, take a catalogue pick the elements. It's not hard to include this, just it's expensive, so maybe sometimes it's client's fault. I believe it's very stupid to start your concept with "This will be a sustainable house!", you can just include it and not talk about it.. Basically in the end you have a bit fatter facade, few more rooms and work for machinery, and panels etc hidden on the most unvisible facade, or if you have money buy fancy panels and put them on main facade like Morphosis..


Apr 14, 13 7:13 pm

WTF are they teaching in architecture school?!

Sustainability is not just "a technology thing", and it's not about picking elements out of a catalog.

Most new projects are sustainable only to the extent that they are required to be by code.  And that's assuming that architects don't fudge the numbers (let's not pretend that it doesn't happen, or that there are municipal officials trained to check the calculations, or that if and when there are that they actually do it, or that the codes are well thought out, etc., etc.).

Apr 15, 13 11:15 pm

Friends via EKE i bring news of original green! For we are more "humane"
no wait, we are, OK!


We say no modern communication technology like internets, a better idea is delivering hand-crafted paper produced from a local paste, whose ingredients could never be reproduced or cloned. The modernfolk claim they can clone things, but such techniques can never capture the "spirit" of OUR, paper!


Upon this paper we can write a story using the modern quill pen. Our story will be about the greatness of the pre-quill pen era, since all things were so wondrous before we started using quill pens.

We shall take our paper and safely store it inside a building whose sentiment and composition matches the antiquated manner in which our paper was produced. The building will then leak and we will rebuild it the same, forget silly words like 'improvement' and experiment. The way forward is back!

Say no to the stars, for the stone age awaits us (again)!

Our artefacts will be finely and tediously crafted by hand in ways no machine could ever produce! Right? The "human spirit" will live on in this way, yay

Oh the joy and delight! Our making process is like eating expired food! Yay for mold!

All things may change but rest assured, our paper and it's home will be safe from this 'inhumanel' modern world. We are 'free!'

Next time will explore how to turn back into primates, forward we go!


Bush/Cheney '04

Apr 15, 13 11:24 pm

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