• Countryside, A Report
    Samir Bantal, Rem Koolhaas, Niklas Maak, and Troy Conrad Therrien
    Diana Murphy
    Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Taschen, 2020
    Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

"Countryside, The Future," a collaboration between the Guggenheim and AMO / Rem Koolhaas, examines radical changes transforming the nonurban landscape and culminates in an exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, opening February 20, 2020. Photo: Pieternel van Velden (Koppert Cress, The Netherlands 2011).

For the past forty years, architect Rem Koolhaas has been a pioneer investigating the contemporary city. Countryside, The Future marks a shift in Koolhaas’s career-long urban focus to what he considers the new edge of the future: the vast, non-urban, rural, deserted, and wild territories he collectively calls countryside. Developed through his architectural think tank, AMO, this exhibition presents speculations about tomorrow through insights found in the countryside of today. Expanding upon the exhibition’s themes, the Countryside, A Report catalogue explores topics including artificial intelligence and automation, climate change, the effects of genetic experimentation, political radicalization and migration, large-scale territorial management, human-animal ecosystems, the impact of the digital on the physical, and other impending mutations of everyday life through global case studies.

Rem Koolhaas founded the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) in 1975 together with Elia and Zoe Zenghelis and Madelon Vriesendorp. He graduated from the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London and in 1978 published Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan. His 1995 book S,M,L,XL summarizes the work of OMA in “a novel about architecture.” His built work includes the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow (2015); Fondazione Prada in Milan (2015); the headquarters for China Central Television (CCTV) in Beijing (2012); Casa da Música in Porto, Portugal (2005); Seattle Central Library (2004); and the Embassy of the Netherlands in Berlin (2003). Current projects include the Qatar Foundation headquarters, Qatar National Library, Taipei Performing Arts Center, a new building for Axel Springer in Berlin, and Factory in Manchester. Koolhaas is a professor at Harvard University and in 2014 was the director of the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale, entitled Fundamentals.

Troy Conrad Therrien has been curator, architecture and digital initiatives at the Guggenheim since 2014. Initially trained as a computer engineer, and later in architecture design, history, and theory, Therrien has held positions as an architect, creative technologist, innovation consultant, and scholar. He organized the museum’s first ever online exhibition, Åzone Futures Market, jointly organized Architecture Effects (2018–19) in Bilbao, and is organizing the forthcoming Countryside: Future of the World with Rem Koolhaas/AMO, opening in New York in early 2020. Therrien is also an adjunct professor of architecture at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where he cofounded the Architecture Online Lab and was the founding director of The Energy Issue. His current research focuses on the relationship between architecture, magic, deep history, and contemporary technology through a curatorial practice that blends traditional exhibitions with experimental forms of programming and research. He received an master’s in architecture history and theory from the Architectural Association in London, an master’s of architecture from Columbia University, where he received the American Institute of Architects Medal, and a bachelor’s in computer engineering from the University of British Columbia.

Samir Bantal is the director of AMO, the research and design studio of OMA, a leading international practice in architecture and urbanism. In Qatar, AMO explores the role of modern architecture in the development of the city of Doha, opening March 2019. Bantal collaborated with renowned designer Virgil Abloh on the design of the 2019 Figures of Speech exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Together with the Harvard School of Design, Bantal leads Countryside, a comprehensive research project that investigates the interaction between the city and the countryside, which will culminate in an exhibition in the Guggenheim in New York early 2020. He led a number of design projects ranging from a new phone for Vodafone and a new retail concept for Korean car brand Genesis, to a high-rise mixed use tower in Casablanca. Bantal was involved in the Image of Europe, an exhibition on the history and meaning of the European Union, including the rebranding the European flag and has contributed on publications, such as Project Japan and Al Manakh I.

Irma Boom is a book maker, based in Amsterdam. Boom studied fine art and graphic design at the AKI Art Academy in Enschede. She worked five years at the Dutch Government Publishing and Printing Office. In 1991 she founded Irma Boom Office, which works nationally and internationally in the cultural world. Boom not only designs books but also edits. She created over 300 books and is known for her artistic autonomy within her field. Her bold experimental approach to her projects often challenges the convention of traditional books in both physical design and printed content. For five years (1990–96) she researched, edited, and designed the 2136-page book SHV Think Book 19961896 (in English and Chinese) commissioned by SHV Holdings in Utrecht. Since 1992 Boom has been a senior critic at Yale University and she lectures and leads workshops worldwide. She has been the recipient of many awards for her book designs and was the youngest ever laureate to receive the prestigious Gutenberg Prize for her complete oeuvre. Boom’s books are in the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and Centre Pompidou in Paris, among other institutions. The Special Collections of the University of Amsterdam collects the complete oeuvre and archive of documents of Boom in the Living Archive. In 2014 Boom received the Johannes Vermeer Award (the Dutch state prize for the arts) from the Minister of Education, Culture, and Science. The jury unanimously awarded Boom for her unparalleled achievements in the field of graphic design. In July 2019 she received an honorary doctorate from the Royal College of Art in London.

Niklas Maak is a writer and an architecture theoretician working in Berlin. He studied art history, philosophy, and architecture in Hamburg and Paris, working with Jacques Derrida on the question of the threshold, and completed his PhD on the work of Le Corbusier and Paul Valery in 1998, with Martin Warnke at Hamburg University. Since then, he has undertaken continuous research on the history of mass housing, and models to reengage with communal dwelling and collective housing. Head of the art section of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung since 2002, he has pursued parallel careers as a writer and educator. He has taught at Städel Schule, Frankfurt, the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and at the Universities of Basel, Berlin, and Buenos Aires. In 2013, he codesigned and programmed, together with A77, an experimental dwelling structure at MoMA PS1. In 2014, he worked with Rem Koolhaas’ Biennial team as a consultant, and contributor. For his essays, Maak has been awarded the George F. Kennan Prize, the prestigious Henri Nannen Prize in Germany and the COR Prize for architectural critique. His most recent publications include Le Corbusier: the Architect on the Beach; the novel Fahrtenbuch; Durch Manhattan (together with artist and writer Leanne Shapton); and Living Complex, an investigation of the effects of fundamental technological, demographic and societal changes on housing.

Founded in 1937 and committed to innovation, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation collects, preserves, and interprets modern and contemporary art, and explores ideas across cultures through dynamic curatorial and educational initiatives and collaborations. With its constellation of architecturally and culturally distinct museums, exhibitions, publications, and digital platforms, the foundation engages both local and global audiences.