The exhibition The Netherlands builds in brick modifies the assumed triumph of modernism in the period between the two world wars. Drawing on two collections of photographs from the archive, this third instalment in the series Surprising finds from the collection shows that brick remained a favoured construction material, even for experimentation.
The common image of Dutch architecture between the two world wars is defined by Dutch modernist architecture. During those years, functionalist designs in glass and concrete were said to have radically dethroned the traditional brick architecture of Berlage, Kropholler and the Amsterdam School. The Netherlands builds in brick shows that traditional and innovative brick architecture continued to develop alongside modernism. Excellent illustrations are the expressive use of brick in the Scheepvaarthuis by Joan van der Mey, and the solidly majestic quality of a residence designed by Willem Kromhout in Noordwijk aan Zee, which emerges from the dunes like a fort.
The Netherlands builds in brick (1800-1940)
At the heart of this third instalment in the series Surprising finds from the collection are two important collections of photographs from the archives of Het Nieuwe Instituut, which have been digitised in recent years. One collection comes from the Tentoonstellingsraad, the ‘exhibition council’ that represented a number of professional bodies from that era, among them the Royal Institute of Dutch Architects (BNA). The other collection consists of photo-panels from Nederland bouwt in Baksteen (1800-1940), an exhibition on view at Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in 1941. The collections contain a wide variety of works by architects such as Michel de Klerk (De Dageraad housing, Amsterdam), Jan Wils (Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam) and George van Heukelom (National Railway Administrative Building, Utrecht). In 2015, both collections will be made accessible through the website of Het Nieuwe Instituut, so that the public can also enjoy them.
The Netherlands builds in brick is the third edition of Surprising Finds. For this series archivist Alfred Marks selects extraordinary drawings, photographs, objects and models from the archives of Het Nieuwe Instituut on the basis of a theme. The presentations do not necessarily show the highlights of the Dutch architectural history, but first and foremost show the richness, diversity and narrative power of the collection.
Makkink & Bey
The office for design, applied art and architecture Studio Makkink & Bey created the spatial design for the series of archive exhibitions entitled Surprising Finds. For each installment, Studio Makkink&Bey carries out a spatial intervention in the interior originally designed by OMA, freeing up the plan of the archive room and creating space for the collection, and guest interventions by young designers and artists.
For each edition, Studio Makkink & Bey invites three young designers, artists or architects to relate their practice to the archive. As an addition to the selected archival pieces (Something Old) Dressed by Architects presents three works: a working area for one of the intervention guests (Something New), a site-specific installation of works on loan (something Borrowed) and an experiment (Something Blue). In this third episode Leon de Bruijne, Gover Flint and Harm Rensink realise interventions with which they confront the historical materials from the collection.
An odd man out in the exhibition is the brick wall relief made by British sculptor Henry Moore for the Bouwcentrum in Rotterdam designed by architect Joost Boks. This structure was completed after World War II and commissioned by the brick industry. Hence the unusual choice of brick by Moore, who normally worked in bronze or stone. Also worthy of mention is the Anker collection of toy-sized bricks, which came on the market in 1895 as an alternative to wooden building blocks. This exceptional collection item completes the overview in The Netherlands builds in brick.
Part of the photographs displayed in the Brick exhibition, are taken from the archives of the Tentoonstellingsraad (The exhibition council). Almost the entire collection of photos from that archive is available on the Flickr Commons website. The sets on Flickr show more than 600 images from the archives of the Exhibition Council. The Exhibition Council for Architecture and Related Arts was set up around 1920, with the aim of organising exhibitions to ‘promote the flourishing of the arts‘. Representatives of various societies in the field of architecture as well as in the ornamental, artisanal and applied arts served on the council.
This project was made possible in part by the BankGiro Loterij, whose financial contribution increases the public visibility of the collection of Het Nieuwe Instituut.
Het Nieuwe Instituut