Friday, November 29, 2013

The Elevator Room

The first work of Architecture I want to introduce you to is called Maison-à-Bordeaux. It was designed by Rem Koolhaas who is one of the most important architects of our time. Rem is a good writer (he began his career as a journalist), a good observer of society, and an exceptional architect. He also has a good sense of humor.

The house was commissioned by a couple from Bordeaux, France. The husband had become paralyzed due to a recent car accident and he was now confined to a wheelchair. Rem designed a house that has three floors: the ground floor opens out to a beautiful lawn, the middle floor is very transparent and provides panoramic views, and the top floor (the wine cellar) has tiny windows. The lack of big windows makes it look like a heavy block floating above the transparent floor.

The most interesting aspect of this house is a small room at the center which is actually a hydraulic elevator. This is the office for the handicapped man. The elevator-room goes up and down the house and becomes part of each floor in a completely natural way.

Usually, providing handicapped access to a building is an annoying problem for architects. It means having to add elevators or ramps everywhere. One of Rem’s greatest abilities is to use simple building ingredients in new ways. Here, Rem turns the accessibility problem into an empowering possibility.

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