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OMA moving business model away from competitions, says David Gianotten

We’re thinking about working with clients from a much earlier stage, before there is a brief, and we’re also interested in initiating our own projects
– David Gianotten

Architecture studio OMA are shifting their business model to place more emphasis on developing their own projects rather than competing for work.

In an exclusive interview with CLAD, studio partner David Gianotten said the new approach “will go beyond just architecture” as OMA attempt to take the initiative in finding worthwhile projects.

“Our profession is in transition,” he said. “For a long time, architecture has been very opportunistic, but I don’t believe so much anymore in doing one competition after another. Instead we’re moving towards a new business model strategy. We’re thinking about working with clients from a much earlier stage, before there is a brief, and we’re also interested in initiating our own projects.”

Gianotten, who has led the practice in the role of managing partner-architect since 2015, revealed the studio is experimenting with the model at the moment with two small-scale projects – one for a masterplan and one for a building. OMA are currently seeking a company or developer to help fund them.

Despite this move away from the competition model – which typically involves a significant time and financial commitment from competing studios – OMA have won a number of high-profile projects this way in 2016, including the Factory cultural centre in Manchester, the Western Australian Museum in Perth and a new civic park in Los Angeles.

The studio is also involved in contests to design a Museum of 20th Century Art in Berlin, an expansion of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in New York and an exhibition hall for the Museo del Prado in Madrid.

Gianotten attributed the success of OMA to the criticality introduced by founder Rem Koolhaas. “I learned [from him] that it’s important to have a constant dialogue around projects, to criticise everything, even things that you take for granted, and to make sure that you always take decisions because there is a good reason for them,” he told CLAD.

“A lot of architects take certain decisions because of a shape, or because of a subjective matter such as beauty. Here at OMA we always analyse and discuss our reasons very thoroughly.”

Despite the media focus on Koolhaas, Gianotten said that the practice is transitioning “from an office that was seen by the world as being led by a star architect to one that is led by a collective” of nine partners.

The full interview with David Gianotten, in which he discusses the studio’s past and ongoing leisure projects, can be read here.

The star-studded new issue of CLADmag is now available online and in print. It features exclusive interviews with David Adjaye, Alejandro Aravena, Shigeru Ban, Richard Rogers, Norman Foster, Vo Trong Nghia and the founders of MVRDV.

OMA  David Gianotten  architecture  design  competitions  Rem Koolhaas  The Factory 
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FEATURE: Interview – David Gianotten

Architecture studio OMA are shifting their business model to place more emphasis on developing their own projects rather than competing for work. In an exclusive interview with CLAD, studio partner David Gianotten said the new approach “will go beyond just architecture” as OMA attempt to take the initiative in finding worthwhile projects. “Our profession is in transition,” he said. “For a long time, architecture has been very opportunistic, but I
CLD,ARC,DES,DEV
David Gianotten is managing partner-architect at OMA in Rotterdam / Vincent van den Hoogen
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