"For example up there, what's holding it up? Okay, it's a wall, but that's not supporting anything.... I hope it all doesn't come tumbling down one day. It just hangs there, you see". Shaking her head in incomprehension Guadalupe Acedo, housekeeper at the Maison à Bordeaux, sops up the water which trickles down through the open roof of this architectural masterwork. She is the protagonist of this highly unusual architectural documentary film by Ila Bêka and Louise Lemôine.
Guadalupe Acedo is the housekeeper of the Koolhaas house
In 1998 the owner of the Maison à Bordeaux, who is wheelchair-bound as the result of an accident, commissioned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas to build him a dwelling of a very special kind – one that would be suited to the requirements of its disabled owner and yet at the same time represent the aesthetic standards of contemporary architecture. The result was a series of architectural and technical curiosities such as, for example, the elevating platform via which each of the three floors can be accessed, or the 'joystick', an illuminated, slightly phallic plastic lever which serves as a door opener but unfortunately gave up the ghost at the time the film was made. On her way past Guadalupe shakes her head in disapproval. And from time to time we hear her mutter: "If I had a lot of money I wouldn´t buy a house like this one."
Maison á Bordeaux
This time we are not dealing with the stylised, tidy photos which are intended to introduce the observer in a refined aesthetic manner to apparently unoccupied houses. Instead it is the charming Guadalupe who squeezes through the narrow stairways with her vacuum cleaner and through whose eyes we get to know this architectural icon with all its fascinations and peculiarities.
"Two systems are colliding"
However, in spite of many amusing moments the Koolhaas Houselife documentary isn't a parody – the film derives its humorous scenes more from the impact which results when two worlds collide with each other, a conflict which is displayed without comment. Rem Koolhaas was clearly surprised by Guadalupe's view of the house: 'You can observe the collision here between two systems: the system of the platonic conception of house cleaning and the system of the platonic conception of architecture.'