Reinier de Graaf (architect)

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Reinier Hendrik de Graaf
Reinier de Graaf.jpg
Born30 June 1964
Alma materTU Delft; Berlage Institute



Reinier de Graaf (born 1964) is a Dutch architect, architectural theorist, urbanist and writer. He is a Partner of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), founded by Rem Koolhaas, and author of the book Four Walls and a Roof: The Complex Nature of a Simple Profession.


Reinier Hendrik de Graaf was born in Schiedam, Netherlands, where he graduated from Stedelijk Gymnasium in 1982.[1] He holds an architecture diploma from Delft University and a master's degree in architecture from the Berlage Institute. De Graaf worked for architecture firms in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom before joining OMA in 1996.



Reinier de Graaf is Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)’s longest serving non-founding partner. He is responsible for building and masterplanning projects in Europe, Russia and the Middle East, including De Rotterdam (2013); the new G-Star Headquarters in Amsterdam (2014), Timmerhuis (2015); Holland Green, the redevelopment of the former Commonwealth Institute (2016); Norra Tornen, two residential towers in Stockholm (due for completion in 2018); the RAI Hotel in Amsterdam (due for completion in 2019); and Mangalem 21, a new residential quarter in Tirana, Albania (due for completion in 2021). De Graaf has worked extensively in the Middle East and Russia, where he led the masterplan of the Skolkovo Innovation Centre (the “Russian Silicon Valley”) and the Greater Moscow Development Framework. His involvement in the future planning of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and the Hamad International Airport in Qatar have caused him to be widely regarded as one of the world’s leading experts on the development of airports as urban systems.


Since 2002, De Graaf has directed the work of AMO, OMA’s think tank. AMO’s clients include Prada, Universal Studios, Condé Nast, Schiphol Airport, the Hermitage Museum, Harvard University and the European Union, for which in 2004 AMO conceived a new graphic identity, including a proposal for a new European flag. De Graaf is also responsible for AMO’s involvement in sustainability and energy planning, with projects such as Zeekracht: a strategic Masterplan for the North Sea; the 2010 publication Roadmap 2050: A Practical Guide to a Prosperous, Low-Carbon Europe for the European Climate Foundation; and The Energy Report, a global plan for 100 percent renewable energy by 2050, made with the WWF.

The Image of Europe, AMO's proposal for the European Flag


In 2018, De Graaf taught a design studio at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design entitled, “Phantom Urbanism.”

From 2010-2013, De Graaf was involved in the founding and curriculum of the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design in Moscow, teaching diverse topics such as energy planning, the history of utopian predictions and the advent of the megacity. From 2014, he continued this research with graduate students at PennDesign, the architecture program at the University of Pennsylvania, under the title Megalopoli(tic)s, addressing the geopolitical implications of the megacity.

In 2011, De Graaf curated the exhibition On Hold at the British School in Rome about the impact of the financial crisis on OMA’s masterplanning work across the globe. The exhibition Public Works: Architecture by Civil Servants featured at the Venice Biennale in 2012 and at the König Galerie Berlin in 2013. De Graaf has published extensively (see below) and lectures frequently in the academic and professional realms.

In 2018, De Graaf was elected as the Sir Arthur Marshall Visiting Professor of Urban Design for 2018-19, in the Department of Architecture at the University of Cambridge[2][3].


De Graaf co-authored three books on behalf of OMA: Content (2003), Al-Manakh I (2007) and Al-Manakh II, Gulf Continued (2010).

De Graaf’s first book under personal title Four Walls and a Roof: The Complex Nature of a Simple Profession  appeared in 2017: a collection of essays – part historical, part inspired by personal experience – on the changing nature of the architecture profession into the 21st Century.

cover of Four Walls and a Roof, the Complex Nature of a Simple Profession © Harvard University Press


Four Walls and a Roof launched in September 2017 in London[4] and in Amsterdam[5] to great acclaim, with reviews published in Architectural Record, the Spectator,[6] Architects’ Journal,[7] and the Economist, which described Four Walls and a Roof as an "original and even occasionally hilarious book about losing ideals and finding them again."[8]

Paul Finch wrote of the book and its author:

“This is the most stimulating book on architecture and its practice that I have read for years, a perceptive analysis of how architecture represents, or connects with, wider political and economic movements and trends. The ambivalence with which architects approach their task, and the claims they make for themselves, are subjected to withering examination. The overall tone, which is one of brutal, not to say Brutalist, honesty, but even if de Graaf generally appears cynical about architecture and architects, one might bear in mind the definition of the cynic as ‘frustrated romantic’. You suspect he writes not from contempt, but love.”[9]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ "Final lecture in the lecture programme The Vincent Award 2006". 2010-12-03.
  2. ^ "The Department is delighted to announce that the General Board has elected Reinier de Graaf as the Sir Arthur Marshall Visiting Professor of Urban Design for 2018-19, assigned to the Department of Architecture — Department of Architecture". Retrieved 2019-02-13.
  3. ^ "Reinier de Graaf Appointed Visiting Professor at the University of Cambridge". OMA. Retrieved 2019-02-13.
  4. ^ "Four Walls and a Roof, The Complex Nature of a Simple Profession". Retrieved 2017-10-31.
  5. ^ "Reinier de Graaf (OMA) presentsBooklaunch: Four Walls and a Roof". Pakhuis de Zwijger. Retrieved 2017-10-31.
  6. ^ "Lost in the metropolis | The Spectator Australia". The Spectator Australia. 2017-10-07. Retrieved 2017-10-31.
  7. ^ "OMA's Reinier de Graaf writes not from contempt, but love". Architects Journal. Retrieved 2017-10-31.
  8. ^ "When architectural idealism meets reality". The Economist. Retrieved 2017-10-31.
  9. ^ "OMA's Reinier de Graaf writes not from contempt, but love". Architects Journal. Retrieved 2017-10-31.

External links[edit]