Koolhaas urges UK to remain in EU


OMA founder Rem Koolhaas has hit out at supporters of Brexit – the campaign to get Britain to leaves the European Union.

He told the BBC EU membership has transformed and modernised the country.

The Dutch architect – who studied and taught in the UK in the 1960s and 70s – warned that Leave campaigners were fighting for a nostalgic idea of an England that didn’t exist.


“If you look at the arguments now to leave you can really see that this is a movement of people who fundamentally want to change England back into the way it was supposedly before,” he told the BBC’s World Tonight radio show.

“So there is much more at stake than being simply in or out.”

Koolhaas studied at London’s Architectural Association and said the city he encountered in the 1960s was not the “swinging London” that people remember now.

“The Architectural Association then still had waitresses in Victorian costumes with white bonnets,” he said. “It was a world of pea soup and a complete absence of coffee. It was not exactly swinging London.

“The school was unbelievably English and then I came back to the school about eight years later and it was staffed by Germany, Czechoslovakia, France; it had completely transformed,

“And that moment of transformation was perhaps something that on a bigger scale happened to England as a whole. It opened up itself, helping to modernise the whole of the English mentality, the whole of the English civilisation and really found a way of being English, or being continental and English, but found a very creative way of participating in and contributing to England.”

Koolhaas has been a longstanding supporter of the EU, which was created in 1993 to bring together the various trade, legal and social agreements that had been formed across Europe alongside the EC.

In the 2000s, OMA and its research arm AMO worked on a series of projects for the EU, including a proposal for an EU “barcode” flag (pictured).

The barcode design, created in 2001 after Brussels was appointed capital of the EU, proposed replacing the blue flag and its gold stars with a series of stripes that represented the elongated flag of each of the member states.

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