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Jaap Bakema: The Latest Architecture and News

Total Space: Considering Dutch Structuralism Today

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.

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

Inside "Open: A Bakema Celebration" - The Dutch Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale

"We consider Bakema not so much an architect of buildings, but an architect of a new idea of what Holland could be--a new national identity, a new national landscape…with an architect in the center of this particular ambition." - Guus Beumer, co-curator of the Dutch Pavilion at the 14th Venice Biennale

Guus Beumer and Drik van den Heuvel, curators of "Open: A Bakema Celebration," sat down to speak with us about this year's Dutch Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. With the help of graphic designers Experimental Jetset, Beumer and van den Heuvel created an emblematic, stripped-down, research-focused display of a particularly Dutch idea: the "Open Society." This was all conveyed within and around a 1:1 model of architect Jaap Bakema's Lijnbaan Shopping Centre (Rotterdam 1954), constructed within the Netherlands Pavilion.

The hope, as Dirk van den Heuvel explains, is that "the elements of Bakema...may be useful, inspiring for our own practices today. Elements that he developed in questions to housing, planning, modernizing… I think when you come here you will recognize that there's lots of affinities, interesting things that we still work with and that we will work with in the future."

After you watch the video, make sure to read the curator's statement, and see images of the pavilion, after the break.

Open: A Bakema Celebration. The Netherlands Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale. Image © Nico Saieh Open: A Bakema Celebration. The Netherlands Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale. Image © Nico Saieh Open: A Bakema Celebration. The Netherlands Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale. Image © Nico Saieh Open: A Bakema Celebration. The Netherlands Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale. Image © Nico Saieh + 18

Venice Biennale 2014: Dutch Pavilion to Rethink the Open Society

This year for the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale, the Dutch entry Open: A Bakema Celebration will reflect on the idea of an open society through the work and research of Jaap Bakema (1914-1981).

The Dutch architect, identified as a “compelling exponent of the Dutch welfare state,” was a leading voice within the international avant-garde movements CIAM (International Congresses of Modern Architecture) and Team 10. Inspired by the belief that “architecture should accommodate the emancipation of the masses while allowing for the self-realization of the individual citizen,” his portfolio includes some of the Netherlands’ most important postwar projects, such as the Rotterdam shopping street Lijnbaan.