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.
“Architecture is more than creating a place to live,” stated the late Dutch architect, Piet Blom, “you create a society.” Till his death in 1999, Blom designed homes and urban schemes as if to reject the stern, coldness of post-war Modernism in light of a warmer, more human architecture. His drawings, diagrams and homes portray an affectionate commitment to reconcile elements of culture with the architecture around us. Characterized by his use of lively colors and equally expressive architectural geometries, project’s such as the “Kasbah” and the cube houses in Rotterdam stand as testaments to his belief that architecture serves the people, not the other way around.
A true “People’s Architect,” Blom’s work has endeared a growing number supporters, among these are residents who have lived in his houses and are hoping to garner donations to share these artifacts with the public. Ingeborg van der Aa, secretary of the Piet Blom Foundation, mentions that the initiative’s mission is to promote recognition, new insight and appreciation with the hopes of encouraging a younger generation to be active creators of their society.
To learn more or contribute towards the Piet Blom Museum, visit there Indiegogo page here.
Follow us after the break for a rare collection of Blom’s drawings.
Last Thursday, the iconic Theater ‘t Speelhuis designed by Dutch architect Piet Blom was destroyed by a large fire, additionally damaging the eighteen cube houses surrounding it. The theater is considered a treasure to the residents of Helmond. Despite the local outcry to rebuild the Theater’s Playhouse, Mayor Jacobs is uncertain on whether that will happen, stating it would be “difficult”.
The eighteen cube houses that surround the fire has experience smoke and water damage, so they do not need to be demolished. However, thirteen of the fifty households within the vicinity of the theater have no insurance and it is unsure if they will be reimbursed for the damage.
The cause of the fire is still unknown, however sources speculate it was a shortage in equipment. There were no reports of anyone hurt, however valuable paintings of artist Har Sanders was also destroyed in the fire.