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Structuralism

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.