The Hansaviertel Residential Tower by Van den Broek ∓ Bakema in Berlin, the CCTV Building by OMA in Beijing, the housing complex Lianjiang Butterfly Bay by NEXT architects, the Library of Birmingham by Mecanoo… For decades Dutch architecture has played a major role in the global world of building, like Dutch design of H.P. Berlage and De Stijl has been appealing to the imagination all over the world for quite a while. Increasingly foreign projects of Dutch architects, engineering firms and contractors – from individual buildings to urban plans and major civil works – are a substantial part of Dutch building history and thus of our cultural heritage.
Moreover, they form an important export product in the age of globalization and ‘architecture as commodity’. Not only in terms of design and innovation, but also where sustainability, energy efficiency and new material applications are concerned.
Remarkably enough, the designs of Dutch architects and urban designers realized abroad have never been inventoried, brought together or described from a specific perspective. This has already happened in some countries around us.
Therefore architectural historian Marcel Teunissen and graphic designers Ad van der Kouwe and Inge Croes-Kwee of Manifesta Idee en Ontwerp are creating a digital platform on this comprehensive topic: www.dutcharchitectureabroad.com.
One of the primary objectives of this ambitious project is the lifespan of the platform. This means that, next to the quality of the content, continuity will be secured.
The impressive database with projects grows quickly. This living megadatabase is the foundation of the platform, which unlocks the projects through descriptions, photos, drawings, videos, animations and sound fragments. See examples of projects.
Searching on the website will be made simple via different indexes, not only on land or on architect, but also on building type, period, etc…
The platform will be launched in 2018, with about 300 described architectural projects. After this (new and older) projects are continuously added. An international network of scouts provides the input for this, so that in the long run completeness can be achieved.
The aim is to expand the platform even further in the near future. Examples include related disciplines such as landscape architecture, interior architecture, waterworks and non-executed designs. From the point of view of the preservation of cultural heritage, extra attention will be paid to construction works, which run the risk of falling into disrepair or being demolished. Preservation will not always be possible, but a second life can be given through, for example re-use. This not only requires support, thorough documentation in word and imagery can be of great importance. See project example.
In addition to a broad knowledge and information base that is accessible to everyone, the platform aims to generate a community for all parties who want to draw attention to Dutch architecture within the global field. For example, by initiating and developing lectures, (traveling) exhibitions and events, in collaboration with and at the request of interested organizations and stakeholders.
Efforts are also being made - within the framework of completeness and continuity - to link existing databases with related databases to the platform.
With the launch of the website, the database and the digital platform must receive their physical precipitation in a bided publication about 100 years of Dutch architecture abroad. This English-language publication will consist of a large, richly illustrated book, in which a century of Dutch architecture abroad is mapped out using thematic essays marked by flagship projects.
The structure is chronological per theme, with attention to the geographical spread, construction periods and generations of architects. It goes without saying that the emphasis is placed on the last 25 years.
The book will be published in a case, together with a cassette with three small guides. According to a geographical and chronological classification, each guide will consist of another 300 briefly described projects.
All together it will be a fine reference work, interesting for both the trade delegation who wants to leave an original 'traditional Dutch' gift and for the architectural tourist who is planning a city trip.
Currently we are in dialogue with specialists who will write the essays, for the time being on the following themes:
This creation involves a number of strictly independent experts. Together with the initiators they form the selection committee for the projects and will be the final editors of the book and the guides.
In addition, in support of the entire project, a committee of recommendation is being formed, in collaboration with Ruud Brouwers, former director of the Netherlands Architecture Fund and former deputy director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute. Discussions are also in full swing for this.
The case will be published by nai010 publishers. As a sparring partner this firm will support the initiative in a broader sense.
Manifesta Idee en Ontwerp (Ad van der Kouwe and Inge Croes-Kwee) is responsible as initiator for the organization and production of the project. Manifesta takes care of the design and technical realization of the website and the publication. This office has already designed many publications on architecture, such as the standard work on Van den Broek ∓ Bakema. Ad van der Kouwe also developed the traveling exhibition Auslandsbeziehungen, on projects realized by young German architects outside of Germany.
Co-initiator Marcel Teunissen, architectural historian, is responsible for the research, the description of all projects and the content-based editors. As a pilot on the subject, he provided lectures at university level. He is known as the author of several books and articles in the field of architecture.
The entire project will be embedded in the Dutch Architecture Abroad Foundation.
DutchCulture, Centre for International Cooperation, will use its diplomatic network to draw the attention of the cultural attachés of the Dutch embassies and consulates. DutchCulture is an independant organization financed by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sciences.
The National Cultural Heritage Office (Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed, Jean-Paul Corten) supports and facilitates the initiative.
The BNA / Royal Institute of Dutch Architects (Mathias Lehner, program manager BNA International) endorses the importance of the platform and cooperates in keeping the database up to date. This is of great importance to the members of the BNA.
Various representatives of the Architecture Department of TU Delft and Het Nieuwe Instituut (the former Netherlands Architecture Institute) are also involved as inspiring discussion partners in the development of the initiative as well as a large number of architectural firms, engineering firms and contractors.
No doubt there are still many interesting ideas, additions and opportunities in the field of building. In order to realize the project as broadly as possible any input is very welcome. Last but not least raising the required funds is one of the main targets. Feel free to contact us via email@example.com
Ad van der Kouwe