A Bakema celebration

With a successful and very graphic installation by Experimental Jetset, the Dutch pavilion curated by da Guus Beumer and Dirk van den Heuvel offers a portrayal of the brilliant Jaap Bakema and seeks out the traces of his idea of open society in the present.


Architecture / Elena Sommariva

The dynamic leader of some of the principal modernist avant-garde movements of the post-war period, secretary of CIAM and founder member of Team 10, Jacob Bakema (1914-1981), otherwise known as Jaap, is the star of the Dutch Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale in response to Koolhaas’s theme “Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014”.

View of the Dutch Pavilion “Open: A Bakema Celebration” at the Giardini. Photo Het Nieuwe Instituut

This brilliant architect, involved in the early reconstruction of Rotterdam and responsible for major public buildings all over the country, is the subject of an exhibition curated by Guus Beumer, director of the Het Nieuwe Instituut and Dirk an den Heuvel, professor at Delft University. It portrays his ideas on society, the role of the State and the free market, the architect and the citizen and is articulated on three levels.

Preliminary sketches, related to the graphic design and exhibition design of “Open: A Bakema Celebration”, Experimental Jetset

The first, and most immediate, brings together Bakema’s heterogenous legacy – models, letters, photographs, TV programmes and drawings – that in the elegant graphic installation by Experimental Jetset gives weight to the ideas of the Dutch architect, founder, among other things, of the magazine Forum (1959-1963) along with Aldo van Eyck and Herman Herzberger. Jaap however was also and above all a thinker who believed in architecture as an instrument for accommodating the emancipation of the masses and enabling the full self-realisation of the individual and dreamed of a new open, democratic and inclusive society. What remains of his ideas? What was meant by an open society? How could an open society be conceived today?

View of the Dutch Pavilion “Open: A Bakema Celebration” at the Giardini

To answer these questions, one passes to the second level of research: the “Post Box for the Open Society” an online platform for exchanging ideas on the subject aimed at architects and designers. “To see our history in a new light but also to use history to see our own time, its anxieties and challenges in a different perspective, to open it up as it were and to find new ways into the future”, explain the curators. The third and final level is the photographic essay commissioned to Johannes Schwartz who has documented Bakema's work in Terneuzen, Nagele, Berlin and Eindhoven.

© all rights reserved

View of the Dutch Pavilion “Open: A Bakema Celebration” at the Giardini

Dutch Pavilion
Open: A Bakema Celebration
Commissioner: Het Nieuwe Instituut
Guus Beumer, Dirk van den Heuvel
Exhibition set and graphic design: Experimental Jetset
Location: Padiglione ai Giardini

Until 23 November 2014
14. Biennale di Architettura
Arsenale, Venice