Dutch Architect Aldo van Eyck built the Amsterdam Orphanage in 1960. His design focused on a balance of forces to create both a home and small city on the outskirts of Amsterdam.
Aldo van Eyck
The Dutch Structuralist architect Aldo van Eyck left his mark in Amsterdam – not only in the form of buildings but also, perhaps surprisingly, in the form of urban playgrounds. Over the course of his career he created a network of more than 700 playgrounds throughout the capital. Today, only a handful of these remain intact. A special publication, compiled by Denisa Kollarova and Anna van Lingen, revisits the seventeen remaining Van Eyck playgrounds in Amsterdam’s city centre. The following extract from the book seeks to introduce the project, and describe its urgency.
We live in an era in which there are not many carefully constructed playgrounds. We don’t like what we see. Have we—city decision makers, architects, designers, parents, friends —forgotten to be critical?
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.