CANactions: We are happy to introduce 'Four Walls and a Roof' to the Ukrainian readers. Is it the first time the book is being translated?
Reinier de Graaf: Yes, the book is being prepared for publication in several countries at the moment, but you will be the first.
What was the reason for writing 'Four Walls and a Roof'?
It happened in a very funny way. I was regularly publishing essays for various architectural outlets and after I had written an essay about Thomas Piketty's 'Capital in the Twenty-First Century' and what I thought about its relevance to architecture, the editor of Piketty contacted the office asking if I would like to expand the column into a book. We said no, but then they persisted and came back with the offer to make a book of essays in which the essays already published could be included and the other part should be written from scratch. I agreed and thus 'Four Walls and a Roof' came about.
In an interview published on Archdaily you said that at OMA you "explore unexpected subjects in an unprejudiced way – to approach unexpected subjects without a preconceived mission." Does this mean that you don't use a certain methodology when working on projects?
We do improvise and when you improvise enough, you tend to come prepared for your own improvisations. But before using any methodology what is important for us is to be involved in the very early stages of the design process, before a project officially becomes a project, and when there is still a window to define the questions which you have to answer yourself later on.
There is not as much information about AMO as about OMA. How is AMO organized?
There is plenty of information about the projects that AMO does. They often generate more publicity than a building, simply because they are more unexpected, because they deal with topics that architects don't usually deal with. AMO is a very fluid entity within our office. The way it is organized depends on the project we work on at that time. There is not one room in the office, or one group of people who work in one way. We worked for the European Union years ago and we had to hire and collaborate with people with different backgrounds, like political scientists and journalists. Many projects we do in partnership with other organizations, offices or specialists, who know more than we do about the subject. We often emphasize the knowledge of others. AMO is the brainchild of OMA's leadership who has a very vivid interest in matters other than architecture. And the way it is cultivated and enriched works in a way that makes sense from a business point of view, too.