Architecture Exhibitions International

Het Nieuwe Instituut Rotterdam

Loans to the Design Museum
Modern Nederland 1963-1989

Mar 23–Aug 18, 2019
© Het Nieuwe Instituut

Works by Joost Baljeu, Kho Liang Ie, Carel Weeber and Jaap Bakema and others from the collection of Het Nieuwe Instituut are on display from 23 March at the Design Museum in Den Bosch in the exhibition ‘Modern Nederland 1963-1989’, which examines the role of the Dutch government as a patron of modern design.

"Although Dutch modernism of the period 1963-1989 was part of an international movement, it had a conspicuous, distinctive, societal ambition of its own, with characteristic design featuring abstraction and geometric shapes. State-owned companies such as the PTT (the postal and telecommunications service), the railways and the tax authorities expressed a common concept that was anti-traditional, tolerant and democratic. From postage stamps to the Delta works, the government made its mark on public design." (Website Design Museum)

The theme of Expo ’70 in Osaka was ‘Progress and Harmony for Mankind’. The master plan for the world’s fair was developed by the Japanese architect Kenzo Tange. Expo ’70 was programmed for a generation that had grown up with television rather than books. The multimedia spectacle in Osaka promoted the humanisation of new information and communications technologies, especially computers and audio-visual media. In Osaka, the Dutch government presented itself with a pavilion designed by Carel Weeber and Jaap Bakema as a ‘viewing machine’: a multimedia environment in which the visitor was immersed in three-dimensional collages of impressionistic images by filmmaker Jan Vrijman and sounds by composer Louis Andriessen. Weeber’s and Bakema’s design facilitated this goal: the pavilion consisted of three stacked, closed containers that created an optimal space for projecting films. The containers were rotated in relation to each other and fixed to towers. Three thousand visitors per hour were conveyed via escalators from the central hall to the exhibition galleries. The hall was situated in the base, suspended almost 2.5 metres above the ground, accessed via a bridge over the water that surrounded the building. The pavilion was clad with 3-cm-thick concrete panels sprayed with aluminium paint. The exhibition features the presentation model of the definitive design, a maquettefoto  and a drawing of the provisional design.

The visual artist Joost Baljeu took inspiration from the avant-garde movements of the first half of the twentieth century. He and the architect Dick van Woerkom made a series of models in which they sought to integrate the possibilities of architecture and visual art in the spirit of De Stijl. They were especially inspired by a collaboration between Theo Van Doesburg and Cornelis van Eesteren from 1923. The idea was to fuse painting and sculpture with architecture to create a unified whole. The collaboration resulted in several models for houses and studios.In practice, this search for a synthesis came up against the practical objections of clients, and many of the projects remained unrealised. The unexecuted design for a single-family dwelling from 1961, for example, is made up of floors, roofs, walls and facades that slide over one another. The painted-wood models were more a visualisation of a spatial construction or a three-dimensional painting than designs for realisable architecture. The exhibition features eight models by Joost Baljeu, several of which were made in collaboration with Dick van Woerkom.