Maison Bordeaux-OMA

drawing exhibited at "Pedagogy and Place" show | Yale Architecture Gallery 


In Maison Bordeaux Rem Koolhaas introduces a vertical disturbance to the static Dom-ino section of Le Corbusier. He does so not by puncturing a solid object through the floors, as he proposed in his earlier projects for the Tres Grande Bibliotheque or the Jussieu Libraries, but by piercing the house with an ever-changing vertical shaft that is constantly in flux – the elevator.  A key liberating element of our era, according to Koolhaas, the elevator has been a recurring theme in the work of OMA. In Maison Bordeaux, not only does the moving platform allow all of the spaces to be accessible by a wheelchair, but it radically transforms the spatial quality of the interior of the house and brings a degree of ambiguity and instability into domestic architecture. The traditional idea of a home as a stable and secure place is subverted and the heart [a fireplace] is replaced by a void with a machine.

The most controversial and rhetorical piece of the overall building composition is the steel beam with the tie-rod. The metal connections that anchor the box to the beam are invisible, which is fundamental to the idea of conveying a box incomprehensibly suspended from the beam above. The actual supports, the piloti and the steel portal, are tucked underneath the volume, hardly visible from the patio below. The drawing [above] suggests that the simple structure of Le Corbusier’s Dom-ino diagram has been transformed into a complex system of planes and volumes that are kept together in a tense dynamic equilibrium.