Koolhaas/Prada transformer

"SEOUL--Prada and OMA/Rem Koolhaas are preparing to unveil their much-anticipated Transformer project next month on the grounds of an imperial palace, where rulers during Korea’s Joseon dynasty used to meet foreign diplomats.

Tomaso Galli, Prada's head of communications, officiated a press conference Tuesday to outline the details of the collaboration. Miuccia Prada and Koolhaas are both planning to attend the April inauguration of the steel tetrahedron-shaped structure, which true to its name can morph its shape.

The Transformer's five-month life cycle will kick off in April 25 with a reprise of Prada's "Waist Down- Skirts by Miuccia Prada" exhibition including some added looks from emerging Korean fashion students. In June, the structure will screen a series of films selected by Oscar nominated director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu of Babel fame. The program, entitled "Flesh, Mind and Soul", will be co-curated by film critic Elvis Mitchell and will span "multiple genres, countries and decades of filmmaking," the company said in a release.

The Transformer will also host an exhibition of the Prada Foundation's artworks entitled "Beyond Control" but dates have not yet been established. Additional events for the space are under consideration, Galli said.

All of the events are free to the public.

The building's structure is composed of hexagon, cross, rectangle and circle-shaped components made of an elastic-coated steel, allowing them to be moved to accommodate the different events. The structure is currently under construction on the grounds of the 16th-century Gyeonghui Palace. Prada is not disclosing the cost of its project, 18 months in the making, except to specify that it is providing up to 80 percent of the financing while its partners LG Electronics, Hyundai Motor Co. and Red Resources Inc. are providing the rest of the money.

Unlike Chanel's traveling Mobile Art exhibition, which the French house famously canceled last year mid-itinerary, the Transformer will stay in Seoul for the duration of its run- although Galli added that Prada has already received one offer from a party interested in buying the structure and Prada may eventually bring the Transformer back to Milan to round out its arts collection.

Seoul was chosen as home of the project because of the "passion and enthusiasm" Prada’s local staff and the Seoul metropolitan government had for the concept, Galli said. The city has an understanding of contemporary art, boasts an influential entertainment industry and has an abiding interest in architecture and fashion, he added.

The project has raised eyebrows in Seoul. The Korean peninsula has suffered numerous invasions throughout the centuries and half a century ago almost all of Seoul was destroyed as communist and United Nations’ armies fought to capture the city. As a result, its few ancient buildings have been restored and Seoul is inordinately sensitive to preserving its architectural relics. But at the conference, Galli stressed that Prada will foot the bill for the palace grounds to be completely restored to their original state."


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