Aaron Betsky on Prada Transformer: ‘This Is Event Architecture’

(Photos: Prada)

From architectural historian, writer, and critic Aaron Betsky comes a most illuminating take on Prada’s Transformer, the flippable temporary event space designed by Rem Koolhaas and his Office for Metropolitan Architecture. Writing in the May 20 issue of The Architect’s Newspaper (which should soon be online), Betsky helpfully describes each of the structure’s four possible conformations for those of us who won’t make it to South Korea this summer:

The space for art calls to mind the socially and physically radical crosses, squares, and circles Malevich produced after the Russian Revolution. The cinema is an anonymous box that disappears in favor of the screen. The hexagonal event space is neutral and non-judgmental. Finally, the catwalk odeon implies supreme concentration on what is the starting point for all of this, the body dressed in high fashion—a kind of temple.

He had us at Malevich. As for the view from outside, think teepee by way of Naum Gabo or blobby cirus tent. “This is event architecture: a structure whose function is less important than its ability to re-stage, in form and in content, certain aspects of our visual culture,” Betsky concludes. “As a temporary object, it is probably the purest example of such. It is too bad that the participants couldn’t collectively roll the object around to change it into whatever they wanted.” Maybe next year. [Cut to shot of Koolhaas in a Prada lab coat, tinkering with titanium-infused balsa wood.]

Recently on UnBeige:

  • Rem Koolhaas Talks Sustainability in Front of His Temporary Building
  • First Look: Prada Transformer Lands in Seoul
  • Rem Koolhaas and Prada to Design Something That’s More Than Meets the Eye