One day you're joking about Doomsday Preppers, the next day you find yourself locked into your home due to a world pandemic. The whole situation is quite unreal, but there's no denying it, dystopias that once were concepts can be today's reality. But is the situation all that different from what we used to call "normal"?
Aimee Baars, Christopher Clarkson, Federico Ruiz, Inez Margaux Spaargaren, Robert van Overveld
Amy Young,Oscar Nowak, Lotte Dijkstra, Stef Dingen
Fiction, in line with legends and myths, belongs to an intriguing family of non-truths. Fiction has been in our lives from the day we were born, be it the bed time stories we are told as children, or the slightly twisted histories one might have learned about their own country at school; conveniently leaving out certain information. Despite its inherent untrue nature, fiction has the power to provide respite from the unpleasantries of reality; to support uncanny commentary about the reality of our world; to touch us deeply on an emotional level about our fears, prejudices, and biggest hopes and dreams.
As designers, it is first and foremost our duty to dare to engage in the fictitious realm and try to introduce it into reality, bringing those fears and dreams to the people, in the hope they find solace within the spaces we imagine. Within this edition we hope to provide an insight into the importance of fiction in our lives, not only as people operating within the built environment, but also as human beings. With this in mind, the theme of fiction is broadly explored in three ways: fiction as ideology; fiction as a tool to illuminate the unknown; and fiction as a mirror for reality.
What are architectural ideologies and utopias and why do we have them? Editor Frederico Ruiz strives to gain insight into these questions through conducting a series of interviews with Herman Hertzberger and Francine Houben, as well as more recent Bouwkunde graduates such as Bas Horsting on page 08. Sometimes, however, it would appear that the distance between the envisioned utopia and the hard reality of the situation is too great to make ends meet. Editor Aimee Baars explores those dreams which remained exactly that, never quite managing to touch their feet to the flat Dutch ground. These ‘never been built’ projects are featured on page 12. In our first of many to come collaborations with the The Berlage, guest writer Stef Dingen interviews David T. van Zanten about the purpose of competitions, with focus on the case of Walter Burley Griffin’s Canberra plan; an attempt to reinvent architecture on page 06.
Editor Inez Spaargaren hypothesises about the happenings of our empty faculty building and explores the places of the unoccupied on page 28 asking, "What happens when we aren’t there to witness something?" Often, there appears to be a distinction between the fictitious and the real, but sometimes it is through a tangible experience that one gains the most creative stamina as you’ll read in Christopher Clarkson’s interview with Koen Mulder and Louis Lousberg on page 16. Guest writer Amy Young once again contributes with a book review on page 26 explaining that perhaps things aren’t as complex as we make them to be; if we as architects simply accept our position as people within an ecological system we can work with it instead of against it.
We hope with this edition to have invited you to reconsider the importance of fiction in your life, and perhaps inspired you to continue dreaming.
The Berlage x Bnieuws
Several weeks before giving a lecture about Chicago-based architect Walter Burley Griffin’s Canberra Plan, as part of this semester’s Berlage Sessions, there was the opportunity to speak to historian David T. Van Zanten. His recent lecture was one in a series of case studies examining the histories, politics, policies, and processes of canonical architectural competitions since the mid-eighteenth century.
What are utopias? We might solve this question by remembering Thomas More and the precise etymology of the word: utopias have no place in reality. And yet, carrying a handful of notions on how the world should be, we stubbornly insist on improving what we think is wrong out there. What is, then, the nature of these ideas in architecture? How have they changed over time? Are they concrete possibilities for a better future? Or mere fictions that can only inhabit our imagination? I talked to some graduates from BK and this is what they said.
From the editors
What if the world's most well-known buildings were never constructed? The Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, the Empire State Building. Or what if they had been designed differently? Sometimes, when the time is right, an architect's vision, his fiction, becomes reality. However, when the time isn't right, the idealistic ideas, the promises of the future, end up in drawers in dark and forgotten archives. For me, the theme 'Fiction' was an opportunity to explore Dutch architects' projects that have never been built. In this article 5 fictitious projects are discussed; two in Amsterdam, two in Rotterdam and one in The Hague. Prepare to be amazed, and perhaps, slightly confused.
t’s 4pm on a Tuesday afternoon and suddenly, the familiar faces of Koen Mulder, affectionately known by many as Mr. Brick, and Louis Lousberg, affectionately known by many as Louis Lousberg appear on my screen. As two members of the committee responsible for running the faculty library, I attempted to ask of Koen Mulder and Louis Lousberg about the importance of the book, not only for the students but also for the built environment as a whole. Why do we make books and what function do they serve in the design process? And, why do we as a faculty need a library? What began as an interview slowly became more of a passionate conversation, and what follows is an account of some of that conversation.
From the editors
Hi, I know this guy from the future who told me that this corona crisis is not as bad as it seems for humanity. His name is Ondo, and he lives in the year 2062. He is quite amazing and has many great stories. This is a transcript of a part of our conversation.
In light of the current pandemic, the term ‘post-COVID’ world has cropped up again and again within the architecture community. Architects have rushed to the rescue with mediocre design solutions; temporary hospitals, 3d printed face masks, and socially distant parks, just to name a few.
Explore Lab is a master graduation track at the Faculty of Bouwkunde. The intentions of this programme are all in the name: you are free to explore a design subject of your choice; you come up with your own problem statement, choose your own tutors who are familiar with the chosen themes, get experimental with research (model making, collages, interviews, a mix... whatever rows your boat). Then finally, like any other studio, you create a design that supports your narrative, or 'fiction'. I spoke to two Explore Lab graduates, Camille Billottet, and Anne van der Zeeuw, whose projects show an intruiging, alternate architecural reality.
‘Artefact’ is a recurring two-page spread, which features a beloved object presented by one of the BK City staff members. Every month, the ‘Artefact’ contributorship is passed on someone new. This months’ artefact is from researcher and communication advisor Lotte Dijkstra, who researches trees in urban conditions at the chair of Landscape Architecture and who regularly writes about various topics dealing with the built environment.
It doesn't matter where you live in the Netherlands; there will probably be several abandoned buildings nearby. While in most cases, the reasons for leaving a building are the same - lack of maintenance, no interest or bankruptcy - this time, the story is much more enjoyable. Each abandoned building has a story about how it became a vacant and escaped occupation, whether it's an urban legend or the truth.