After spending decades devoted deconstructivism and an unapologetic sense of urbanity, Rem Koolhaas is switching things up. The Pritzker winner, widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in architectural thinking today, has shifted his gaze into uncharted territory—the countryside. “In the past decades,” Koolhaas said in a recent press statement from the Guggenheim, “I have noticed that while much of our energies and intelligence have been focused on the urban areas of the world—under the influence of global warming, the market economy, American tech companies, African and European initiatives, Chinese politics, and other forces—the countryside has changed almost beyond recognition. The story of this transformation is largely untold, and it is particularly meaningful for AMO to present it in one of the world’s great museums in one of the world’s densest cities.”
Koolhaas’s newfound fascination with non-urban areas will culminate in Countryside, The Future, on view at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum from February 20 through the summer of 2020. The exhibition will highlight urgent environmental, political, and socioeconomic issues in a collaboration between Koolhaas and AMO, a research and design think tank within the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). Drawn from original research on the rapidly changing rural areas across the globe, the exhibition will fill the Guggenheim rotunda with an immersive, multi-sensory installation based on work by Koolhaas and AMO, as well as the Harvard Graduate School of Design; the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing; Wageningen University, Netherlands; and the University of Nairobi. If this sounds familiar, it’s because Koolhaas and AMO have been laying the groundwork for the show for the last few years.
Countryside, The Future will mark Koolhaas’s most striking departure from the ultra-urban to the decidedly non-urban, lumping the rural, remote, and wild into the broader category of the “countryside.” A selection of global case studies will address topics such as artificial intelligence, human-animal ecosystems, political radicalization, and other phenomena that are drastically changing the Earth’s landscapes. The exhibition will make use of imagery, film, archival material, and more to create an immersive and captivating view of the countryside.