Does the term Dutch architecture
evoke for you almost sickeningly quaint images of windmills, stone dykes, and Golden Age townhouses? Then hang on to your wooden shoes (or silver skates) and brace yourself for SuperDutch
, a superfunky look at what some of the hottest design firms in the Netherlands have been turning out in the past decade or so. If you're familiar with the writing or work of iconoclastic Dutch architect and author Rem Koolhaas, you'll feel at home in this somewhat cerebrally annotated volume that nonetheless boasts a wealth of full-color photographs showcasing the best of the Netherlands's so-called "Second Modernity."
From UN Studio/Van Berkely & Bos, for example, there's the breathtaking Erasmus Bridge on Rotterdam's Mense River, with its superhigh-tech "tensile" engineering and sky-shooting asymmetrical central arm. From Atelier van Lieshout in Rotterdam (where much of what's shown herein is located) comes a profusion of furniture, architectural components (like toilets), and boldly colored, highly modular mobile homes almost lewd in their lumpy, bumpy playfulness of form. MVRDV weighs in here with the Villa VPRO broadcasting center, a big concrete and glass Mondrian grid that's rather homely by day, but when lit at night the full genius of its openness becomes apparent. And from Koolhaas's own Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) comes a handful of examples that demonstrate what his fractured theories look like "in action": the University of Utrecht's floaty, translucent Educatorium; the Congrexpo in Lille, France; and the coldly handsome private residence Villa Bordeaux.
There's a lot more here from a total of a dozen studios--including, in addition to those mentioned above, Wiel Arets, Erick van Egeraat, Mecanoo, Neutelings Riedijk, NOX, Oosterhuis NL, Koen Van Velsen, and West 8. Much of it evokes a kind of harshly and deliberately deconstructivist Blade Runner world where it's much more important to be conceptual and edgy (and, we learn here, frugally executed) than beautiful. Many of the projects featured here (some of which are viewable by clicking on the Look inside this book! link below the cover image) look like they're straining to become alien spacecraft or cybermedia phantasmagoria--indeed, anything but attractive public buildings as we know them, even in our postmodern era. But even when these cutting-edge Dutch treats are ugly, they're never boring. --Timothy Murphy
From Library Journal
This volume documents the work of 12 young Dutch architects and their studios. Lootsma (architecture, Berlage Inst., Amsterdam) introduces "the Second Modernity of Dutch Architecture" and then provides concise critical essays about each group's work, complemented by a total of 200 color and 100 black-and-white images. Wiel Arets, UN Studio, Erick van Egeraat, Atelier Van Lieshout, Mecanoo, MVRDV, Neutelings Riedijk, NOX, OMA, Oosterhuis.NL, Koen van Velsen, and West 8 are discussed in detail, followed by brief mention of four newly established Dutch architects in a final chapter. While the stark modernity of this architectural style may not please all tastes, its influence is becoming more widespread. Increasingly, these firms are winning international commissions, and their principals are taking positions as visiting or permanent professors at elite architecture schools like Columbia and Harvard. Recommended for all large architecture and design collections. Jay Schafer, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.