The Venice Architecture Biennale opened on Saturday 7 June. Director Rem Koolhaas has invited the curators of all national pavilions to present exhibitions that respond to the theme ‘Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014’. On Thursday 19 June Het Nieuwe Instituut welcomes the curators of the Dutch and the British Biennale pavilions.
Open: A Bakema Celebration
The Dutch pavilion is jointly curated by Guus Beumer (Het Nieuwe Instituut) and Dirk van den Heuvel (Delft University of Technology and Jaap Bakema Study Centre). The exhibition Open: A Bakema Celebration explores the creation of the open society and questions the role that architects and individual citizens could play in its realisation.
The presentation centres on the work and ideas of architect Jaap Bakema (1914-1981). His strong views on the open society, and his achievements in placing architecture at the heart of political and cultural debate on the development of Dutch society, are more relevant than ever today in light of the need to reformulate the roles of architects, the government and the marketplace. Beumer and Van den Heuvel will report on initial reactions to the exhibition and discuss the Dutch entry in more detail.
A Clockwork Jerusalem
The other guest speaker is Wouter Vanstiphout, whose office Crimson Architectural Historians worked with FAT Architecture to give shape to the British pavilion. A Clockwork Jerusalem explores the interplay between international modernism and the British tradition of romantic architecture with its fascination for technology and design fiction. The exhibition focuses on the flowering of British Modernism, the moment it was at its most ambitious, socially, politically and architecturally, before it completely collapsed. A choice selection of large-scale projects shows that architecture in Britain at the time was central to manufacturing a new vision of society at a scale inconceivable today.
The common ground between the themes of the two pavilions, the Dutch ideal of the open society and the creation of the British welfare state, will form the starting point for a public conversation.