the history of a retreat from history (and theory)?
Whatever happened to history and theory in Dutch architecture?
Since history, theory and criticism were identified as key components to the Eindhoven’s School particular approach to architecture, on the occasion of the exhibition The Eindhoven School: a forgotten avant-garde being presented in Rotterdam, a symposium was organized at the Het Nieuwe Instituut to discuss the current role, position, and state of architecture history and theory in Dutch architecture culture. Through the contribution of a new generation of architecture practitioners, critics, and historians, this symposium identified critical issues and questioned the underlying structures that have shaped architecture history and theory in the Netherlands in the past decades.
Upon stating their perspectives on the current condition of Dutch architecture culture through individual position statements, Kirsten Hannema, Elsbeth Ronner, Mark Minkjan, Christophe van Gerrewey, and Marina van den Bergen engaged in a timely discussion. With the Eindhoven School efforts as a grounding element, the discussion revolved around current attempts for a renewed architectural engagement. While falling short of arguing that history and theory no longer mattered, there was a common understanding that the presence (and relevance) of these intellectual fields had greatly shifted within Dutch architecture, as has the relation between architectural thinking and doing.
The symposium was concluded with a keynote by Bart Lootsma that could best be described as a tour-de-force of. Interspersed with musical interludes, Lootsma provided an extensive (and at times, quite personal) comprehensive and profound reading of the work of his colleagues (and friends) Johan Kappetein and Gert-Jan Willemse. Presenting objects from the HNI’s collection in a previously unseen detail, Loostma claimed that history and theory not only served as the basis for the deep meaning the two architects developed in their designs, but was also the only way to understand their work, as every drawing, model, and artifact is filled with multiple meanings and references.
March 8, 2018
Het Nieuwe Instituut
Sergio M. Figueiredo
Creative Industries Fund NL
Het Nieuwe Instituut