OMA|Rem Koolhaas, City Hall The Hague
OMA|Rem Koolhaas, City Hall, The Hague

Over the past 25 years OMA has designed and proposed numerous projects in The Hague, some of which have been realized, including of course one of OMA|Rem Koolhaas' first major projects, the Netherlands Dance Theater. Until 20 August you can see models, drawings, photos and videos of all of these projects at Stroom (pronounced as "strome" as in "home"), a public gallery in The Hague. Although the exhibition looks a bit like Content-light it is an excellent survey.

Since the exhibition spans more than 25 years, from the design for the Dutch parliament building in 1981 to a recent design for an office block near The Hague Central Station, it gives a rare and interesting historical overview of OMA. Whereas the drawings for the Dutch parliament building still resonate with 20s and 30s Russian avant-garde, the design for the multi-purpose building at the Koningin Julianaplein reflects the recent sculptural trend of some of OMA's designs. In an act of self-parody there is a table with paper and scissors where you can design your own OMA building.

The exhibition is also a chance to see the model of one of OMA's best unrealized projects, the design for the The Hague City Hall from 1986. It had won the competition but a local official bypassed the jury in favour of his own pick, the entry by Richard Meier. So now The Hague has a dysfunctional monolithic blown-up version of a Californian beach house, with of course, a big atrium.

What was so interesting about the design by OMA, was that they approached the program, which called for 150.000 m2 of space not as a building, but as a city. By adding a building that is a skyline in itself, the design by OMA also enriched the skyline of The Hague. By the way, "De Rotterdam" in Rotterdam looks like a pimped version of the design for the City Hall, but without the thinking: it is just "form".

My Top 5 Unrealized Projects by OMA/Rem Koolhaas:

1. Tres Grande Bibliotheque, Paris, 1989
2. Two Libraries Jussieu, Paris, 1993
3. ZKM, Karlsruhe, 1989-92
4. Whitney Museum Extension, New York, 2002
5. City Hall, The Hague, 1986

It's a real shame that some of the groundbreaking and prize-winning designs by OMA|Rem Koolhaas from the late 80s have not been realized. The ideas behind the two libraries for Jussieu later found their way into MVRDV's design of Villa VPRO.

OMA in The Hague is at Stroom, The Hague until 17 September 2006.

Postscript: Hard to believe, but the Netherlands Dance Theatre in The Hague will be/is being/has been demolished (depending on when you read this) to make way for a new building by Neutelings Riedijk.