The Mies van der Rohe Foundation invited me to review the work of NL Architects at the Coup de Dés Conference in Helsinki, 2006; in particular the awarded Basketbar at the Uithof in Utrecht. The text below documents the observations addressed. My text-image talk is entitled ‘How to Dance?’ I believe NL architects attempt to address this important question, along with other issues.
I don’t recall exactly what Bertolt Brecht said, but it goes something like this: ‘Once we have eaten the sausage, the question is how to dance.’ In other words: what is our concept of happiness, of culture and pleasure when we have stilled our hunger, built a home and are on the look-out for freedom? In order to answer this question NL Architects – like many other practices in the Netherlands – do the following:
Instead of exposing the wrongs of society, like Daniel Libeskind in the Jewish Museum, Berlin, through deconstruction or a critical regionalist approach resisting our urban culture, NL Architects prefer to map out our actuality. NL Architects embrace the everyday in its full appearance. They operate and find pleasure in mass culture, embrace the freedoms of different subcultures. NL Architects have a passion for the real. Instead of practising pity-science, stressing that we have lost every opportunity to construct a world, they see many opportunities arising from our contemporaneity.
In the face of corporate globalisation ‘we’ – the Dutch – started to map out what architects couldn’t understand with the old navigation methods developed for our first modernity (Industrialisation).
Instead of complaining about impossibility, corruption, and the conspiracy against the world, the Dutch took the schizophrenia of late-capitalism as their starting point. Through datascaping, surfing the waves of extreme reality, they found many opportunities the critical, with its preconceived ideas, was unable to map as potential. And even architects like Norman Foster understand this. [More ... see PDF]
How to Dance?
NL Achitects. Mies van der Rohe Award Basketbar Utrecht