Whether it's a bisected war bunker, an office space that forbids sitting down or a hulking yet ultimately purposeless machine of war, the chances are that if you've seen a project by RAAAF, it provoked some questions. But while their work may appear merely idiosyncratic, it is informed by a deep understanding and questioning of culture. Originally produced and published by Freunde von Freunden as "Experiments In Spatial Dynamics: RAAAF," Leonie Haenchen delves into the architecture and philosophy that drives the unconventional Dutch practice.
It’s pouring without mercy, but at Soesterberg Airbase this is highly appreciated. “We like this weather,” says Ronald Rietveld, co-founder of RAAAF, as he greets us at the entrance of what appears to be an enormous post-apocalyptic amusement park. “The rain suits this atmosphere much better.”
RAAAF stands for Rietveld Architecture-Art-Affordances, which doesn’t really prepare one for what’s revealed behind the doors of Shelter 610. A monstrous arthropod made out of steel with two spindly legs stares vacuously out of its white glassy eyes. Every attempt to name this mechanical being fails, it merely appears as a collision of past and future—science fiction in flesh and blood. “Everything we do should be an in-the-moment experience, something that people can feel physically. If this object was only presented on paper, it would simply not be as strong,” says Ronald and grins mischievously. “I am sure you will still remember this moment in five years.”