Jaap Bakema and the Open Society. Architecture, Democracy and the Welfare State
On the occasion of the 14th Biennale in Venice in 2014 the Netherlands presented Dutch architect Jaap Bakema (1914-1981), and his idea of architecture designed for democratic and egalitarian society. The exhibition in question, curated by Dirk Van den Heuvel, was a starting point for the first monograph on Bakema – Jaap Bakema and the Open Society – launched in March 2018. After recent presentations in Prague and at the Venice Biennale, Oris House of Architecture, together with the Institute of Art History is proud to announce Dirk van den Heuvel’s lecture and the presentation of the book in question, which is set to happen on Monday, 18 June 2018, at 7 pm.
By advocating lifestyle diversity as a point of departure of urban planning, Bakema took the role of opposition within the International Congress of Modern Architecture (CIAM). Already in 1947, the architect determinately presented the young currents within Dutch architecture at the opening of 1947 reunion conference in Bridgwater. At the Otterlo conference, Bakema introduced the subject of the open society to the circles of CIAM and Team 10. The architect would continue the conversation on the subject throughout his lifetime, especially in his international exchanges with colleagues in the USA and Japan. To Bakema, the open society implied a social project of change, contestation and communication. It was to be built on comprehensive welfare state arrangements between government bodies, citizens and the industry. At the same time, he envisaged a modernized Netherlands as the open society par excellence. However, in the early 1970s when the welfare state redistribution system seemed to be fully established, a new wave of radical democratization and economic change drastically impacted Dutch society, and Bakema’s project for the new integration of architecture and regional planning lost its momentum.
Dirk van den Heuvel’s lecture on Bakema will also be an opportunity to recall Bakema’s many connections to former Yugoslavia and Croatia. To name one, Radovan Nikšić, an architect of the Workers’ University in Zagreb, worked in the Van den Broek and Bakema’s office in 1956 and attended Otterlo’s meeting. Bakema was also engaged in the UN competition for the rebuilding of Skopje in 1965, a key moment in the global exchanges between modernist architects during the period of Cold War. On his way to Skopje, Bakema stopped in Zagreb and delivered two lectures at the Faculty of Architecture.
Dirk van den Heuvel
Dirk van den Heuvel is an Associate Professor at TU Delft and heads the Jaap Bakema Study Centre at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam. His publications include the books: Jaap Bakema and the Open Society, Architecture and the Welfare State, Team 10, In Search of a Utopia of the Present 1953-1981 and Alison and Peter Smithson: From the House of the Future to a House of Today. He is an editor of the publication series DASH. Delft Architectural Studies on Housing as well as of the online journal for architectural theory Footprint. He was also an editor of the Dutch journal for architecture Oase. Van den Heuvel received a Richard Rogers Fellowship from Harvard University in 2017. He was the curator of the Dutch national pavilion for the 14th International Architecture Exhibition at the Biennale di Venezia in 2014 Fundamentals.