Invitation PhD Seminar: Dirk van den Heuvel – “Jaap Bakema and the Open Society: Architecture, Democracy and the Welfare State in The Netherlands”
Throughout the post-WWII decades the Dutch architect Jaap Bakema (1914-1981) was inspired to build for a democratic and egalitarian society which recognized and accommodated diversity in lifestyles as a starting point for urban planning. This is evidenced by his many interventions in the CIAM discourse, to begin with his statement on behalf of young Dutch architects at the 1947 reunion conference in Bridgwater. At the Otterlo conference Bakema introduced the subject of an open society to the circles of CIAM and Team 10. He 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. From the massive planning of housing to town halls, from churches to modern-day leisure resorts, the body of work of Jaap Bakema and his office can be regarded as the crictial embodiment of the Dutch welfare state in the late twentieth century.
Van den Heuvel was a Visiting Scholar at Monash University, Melbourne in 2019, and he was awarded with a Richard Rogers Fellowship from Harvard GSD in 2017, for his research project Socio-plastics on New Brutalism in architecture with regard to British welfare state politics. He was the curator of the Dutch pavilion for the 14th architecture exhibition of the Venice Biennale in 2014. Van den Heuvel also curated the exhibition ‘Structuralism’ at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, together with Herman Hertzberger. For Bureau Europa, Maastricht he curated the show ‘Changing Ideals: Re-thinking the House’.