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EUROPE: EU flag redesign proposal infographic

EU flag redesign proposal

Graphic News

May 9, 2002 -- A radical new design for the European Union flag proposed by Dutch "King of Kool" Rem Koolhaas has been described as a bar-code, wallpaper, a TV test card and deck chair fabric.

The rather sombre European Union flag could do with changing, suggests a top designer whose radical new version takes colours from the banners of all the member states.

If European Union plans to accept as many as 10 new countries to the already 15-strong club by 2004 go ahead, it is feared that with so many stars the enlarged organisation’s flag may look like a dog’s dinner.

The current version dating from 1986 boasts 12 stars -- 12 being chosen as a pleasingly “perfect” symmetrical arrangement, rather than to represent member nations.

Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas thinks that this perfection can be improved upon: his new flag uses 45 vertical stripes, taking colours from every existing member’s national flag.

The redesign -- commissioned in response to a request by Romano Prodi, the European Commission president, and Guy Verhofstadt, the Belgian Prime Minister, to find ways of rebranding the EU’s flagging image -- represents Europe’s “diversity and unity,” according to Koolhaas.

EU officials are currently examining the design, which if approved could soon be flying from flagpoles across the continent, as well as featuring on EU signs, stationery and even car number plates. Those who dismiss the radical, bar-code-like design out of hand may be unaware of Koolhaas’s pedigree.

The 2000 winner of the Pritzker Prize -- the Nobel of architecture -- the “King of Kool” is regularly consulted by the EU when it is seeking some blue-sky thinking.

“He’s got it all: the number one haircut, a nice tan offset by loosely open collars, the rock-steady thousand-metre stare -- and the kind of discourse that makes most other architectural discussion sound like Beavis and Butthead on Mogadon,” says architecture writer Jay Merrick.

Among his best-known designs is the Educatorium at Utrecht University, with its gorgeous curved section; the private house in Bordeaux that brilliantly reinvents French master-architect Le Corbusier; and the massive Euralille rail hub in Lille. Known by thousands as the terminus for Eurostar trains between London and Paris, Euralille is regarded as the most spectacular architectural and urban planning project in Europe of the last five years.

Despite the King Kool pedigree, however, his new EU standard has attracted stinging criticism. Critics have already likened it to wallpaper, a TV test card and deckchair fabric. Even before its run up the flagpole it seems few are inclined to salute it.

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