Reinier de Graaf, OMA: Four Walls and a Roof
The Complex Nature of a Simple Profession

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Architecture critic Niklas Maak (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, FAZ) and OMA Partner Reinier de Graaf discussed de Graaf’s recently published book Four Walls and a Roof.

The myths about the architecture profession that de Graaf identified in his book served as a starting point for a conversation between him and Niklas Maak about the role of the architect and the challenges of the profession in today’s society.

Hans-Jürgen Commerell
, Director, ANCB The Aedes Metropolitan Laboratory, Berlin
Tom Maasen, Cultural Attaché, The Netherlands Embassy in Berlin

Reinier de Graaf, Partner, OMA, Rotterdam and Dr. Niklas Maak, architecture critic, FAZ, Berlin
Followed by Q & A with the audience


"Architecture, we like to believe, is an elevated art form that shapes the world as it pleases. Four Walls and a Roof challenges this notion, presenting a candid account of what it is really like to work as an architect. Drawing on his own tragicomic experiences in the field, Reinier de Graaf reveals the world of contemporary architecture in vivid snapshots: from suburban New York to the rubble of northern Iraq, from the corridors of wealth in London, Moscow, and Dubai to garbage-strewn wastelands that represent the demolished hopes of postwar social housing. We meet oligarchs determined to translate ambitions into concrete and steel, developers for whom architecture is mere investment, and the layers of politicians, bureaucrats, consultants, and mysterious hangers-on who lie between any architectural idea and the chance of its execution.

Four Walls and a Roof tells the story of a profession buffeted by external forces that determine - at least as much as individual inspiration - what architects design. Perhaps the most important myth debunked is success itself. To achieve anything, architects must serve the powers they strive to critique, finding themselves in a perpetual conflict of interest. Together, architects, developers, politicians, and consultants form an improvised world of contest and compromise that none alone can control." (Harvard University Press)

Reinier de Graaf: Four Walls and a Roof. The Complex Nature of a Simple Profession, Harvard University Press, 2017, 528 pages, ISBN 9780674976108

In collaboration with The Netherlands Embassy in Berlin




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