Bringing XL Back Home: Having completed huge projects in Asia, Rem Koolhaas and his Office for Metropolitan Architecture apply their strategies for building extra-large to the small city in which they are based.
When I went to Rotterdam to see the largest single building in The Netherlands, the eponymous De Rotterdam by OMA, it reminded me of something. But I couldn't put my finger on it. Walking back over UNStudio's elegantly sculptural 1996 Erasmus Bridge crossing the River Maas, I turned to take a photograph. Back home in London, I showed it to a friend. “Easter Island statues,” she said, instantly. Spot on.It's surely not intended, but it's there: the hauteur, the sense of enigmatic ancestor-guardians lining the water's edge, but also the anonymity. The Polynesian statues are simplified representations of human heads. They vary, but there is no individual human expression. Like De Rotterdam, they are mostly arranged on strongly expressed horizontal plinths.