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Total Space: Considering Dutch Structuralism Today

05:30 - 17 February, 2017
Total Space: Considering Dutch Structuralism Today, Piet Blom, the Speelhuis Theatre and Cube Houses, c. 1974. Blom drew the roofs of the theatre with some of the surrounding 188 houses. The star-shaped void for admitting daylight is created by omitting one cube. Image © Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam, Blom, P. / Archive (BLOM), inv. nr. BLOM137
Piet Blom, the Speelhuis Theatre and Cube Houses, c. 1974. Blom drew the roofs of the theatre with some of the surrounding 188 houses. The star-shaped void for admitting daylight is created by omitting one cube. Image © Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam, Blom, P. / Archive (BLOM), inv. nr. BLOM137

In this article, Dirk van den Heuvel links (Dutch) Structuralism to current day developments – more specifically in the digital realm. The following essay was first published by Volume in their 50th issue, Beyond Beyond, the editorial of which is available to read here.

Throughout his life the Dutch architect Jaap Bakema (1914-1981) sought to convey to his students and colleagues the notion of what he called 'total space', 'total life', and 'total urbanization'. In his view, architectural design had to help in making people aware of the larger environment to which they belong and in which they operate. Architecture could not be uncoupled from urbanism, it was related to the deeper structure of society. His conceptualization of architecture was programme and process based and it put social and visual relationships at the centre, which betrays his adherence to Structuralism as voiced in the Dutch journal Forum of which he was an editor together with Van Eyck and Hertzberger, and to the Team 10 discourse, of which he himself was one of the leading voices. At the same time, Bakema would expand on the legacy of the Dutch De Stijl movement and Dutch Functionalism. In particular his concept of space and spatial continuity is derived from De Stijl. His diagrammatic approach to architectural design and programmatic organization, as well as the elementary architectural language of his projects were elaborations of the Dutch Functionalist tradition.

Video Series: Six Lessons from Six Leading Dutch Designers

09:30 - 23 September, 2015
Video Series: Six Lessons from Six Leading Dutch Designers, Rotterdam Markthal / MVRDV. Image © Daria Scagliola+Stijn Brakkee
Rotterdam Markthal / MVRDV. Image © Daria Scagliola+Stijn Brakkee

There's something special about architecture in The Netherlands. From MVRDV's iconic Markthal in Rotterdam to WAM's whimsically stacked Inntel Hotel in Zaandam, for years Dutch design has questioned accepted architectural norms. The country has long been considered a leader in design, catalyzed in part by The Netherlands' famous architectural trailblazer Rem Koolhaas. Since 1975 Koolhaas' Rotterdam-based firm OMA has realized dozens of unorthodox designs and has been linked with the creation of more than forty major architecture practices worldwide.

In 2000 Bart Lootsma released Superdutch, a bestselling opus on the mythology of Dutch architecture and its thought leaders, which provided a glimpse into the enduring humanist approach to design that has earned global praise for the country's architects. In the book, Lootsma profiled a handful of Dutch firms including UNStudio, West 8 and MVRDV. Fifteen years later, students from Canada's Simon Fraser University formed a collective called Groep Drie to continue the conversation. From Herman Hertzberger to Ben van Berkel, Groep Drie sat down with The Netherlands' most innovative designers to talk urbanism, spiritualism, color, and more.

Read on to find out what The Netherlands' leading architects had to say.

Architecture Documentaries To Watch In 2015

09:00 - 8 March, 2015
Architecture Documentaries To Watch In 2015, Microtopia (2013) / Jesper Wachtmeister
Microtopia (2013) / Jesper Wachtmeister

Following our top 40 Architecture Docs to Watch in 2014 and our favourite 30 Architecture Docs to Watch in 2013, 2015 is no exception! Our latest round up continues to feature a fantastic range of films and documentaries telling the tales of unsung architectural heroes and unheard urban narratives from around the world. This entirely fresh selection looks past the panoply of stars to bring you more of the best architectural documentaries which will provoke, intrigue and beguile.

From a film which explores one man's dream to build a cathedral (#4) and a simultaneous history of and vision of Rotterdam's future (#7), to a tour of the world's last surviving squatter town in Copenhagen (#14) and A Short History of Abandoned Sets in Morocco (#16), we present - in no particular order - thirty freshly picked documentaries for you to watch in 2015.

'An Installation In Four Acts' - Exploring Structuralism At Rotterdam's Nieuwe Instituut

01:00 - 5 January, 2015
'An Installation In Four Acts' - Exploring Structuralism At Rotterdam's Nieuwe Instituut, Structuralism: 'An Installation In Four Acts'. Image via Het Nieuwe Instituut
Structuralism: 'An Installation In Four Acts'. Image via Het Nieuwe Instituut

Great movements in architecture are usually set in motion by a dull societal ache or as a response to a sudden, unforeseen reorientation of a community at large. The Dutch city of Rotterdam - vast swathes of which were cast into oblivion during the blitz of May 1940 - has been at the forefront of many shifts in approach to the built environment. It is therefore fitting that the latest exhibition at the Nieuwe Instituut (formerly the NAi), simply titled Structuralism, is being held in the city that was recently named Europe’s best.

Furthermore, Dutch Structuralism is a timely subject for Dirk van den Heuvel and the Jaap Bakema Study Centre (JBSC) in Delft to tackle. With major civic buildings like OMA's extension to Rotterdam's City Hall taking shape, it appears that a resurgence of Structuralist formal thought is appearing in the contemporary city. The exhibition seeks to shine a new light on the movement by uncovering drawings, models and texts which profoundly shaped 20th century architectural thinking.

'An Installation In Four Acts' Seminar Space. Image via Het Nieuwe Instituut Structuralism: From 'An Installation In Four Acts' looking towards 'Making Space, Leaving Space'. Image via Het Nieuwe Instituut Structuralism: 'An Installation In Four Acts'. Image via Het Nieuwe Instituut Structuralism: 'An Installation In Four Acts' - the mini-mega furniture. Image via Het Nieuwe Instituut +28