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Koolhaas HouseLife, Bordeaux, France

Friday 26 Sep 2008

Backstage at Maison à Bordeaux

© Ila Bêka / Louise Lemoîne 
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Candid documentary portrays seminal building under a refreshingly new light 

Shielded by her mighty apron and armed with clunky broom sticks and mops, Guadalupe Acedo confidently marches in the labyrinth of what is maison à Bordeaux: up stairs, down stairs, patiently floating on the 3 by 3.5m open lift that moves between the three floors, we follow her cleaning routine in a house that is a European heritage monument, a masterpiece of contemporary architecture but also a temple of modernity daily coming to terms with wear and tear.

“Koolhaas HouseLife” is a 58 minute airy, comprehensive stroll through the complex architectural icon created by Rem Koolhaas / OMA in 1998, to accommodate a man confined to a wheel chair. Punctuated by Guadalupe’s priceless expressions, the documentary is the direct product of the director’s curiosity; Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoîne were moved by the desire to explore what happens after a house is handed over to the owners and the house enters real life, leaving the perfect world of glossy architecture magazines.

Through 24 nicely paced chapters, they explore the subjective approach of the people that care for the precious building tackling the at-times-humorous issue of the practicality of cleaning and maintaining an avantguarde house for which methods have to be reinvented to cope with the many prototypes exhisting within.

In a 10 minute reaction interview, Rem Koolhaas is visibly surprised by Guadalupe’s cleaning methods and as he sees her hovering some improbable steps he comments: “Such generic cleaning to such an exceptional building…I am surprised…seems completely insane. You see here two systems colliding: the system of the platonic conception of cleaning with the platonic conception of architecture.”

The film is the first release of a series of 4 documentaries called Living Architecture where the two directors explore Etablissements Jean-Pierre Moueix in Pomerol created by Herzog & de Meuron, the vertiginous heights of the Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao and the identity transformation of a suburb of Rome following the construction of the Church "Dives in Misericordia", built by Richard Meier.

“Koolhaas HouseLife” was shown at the Barbican Centre in London as part of a series of bi-monthly appointments dedicated to Architecture on film and is now available on DVD with a 200 pages coffee-table book at www.koolhaashouselife.com.

See trailer 1
See trailer 2
See video interview with Rem Koolhaas

Laura Salmi

Key Facts

Status completed
Value 0(m€)
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