Van den Broek & Bakema: Vigorous protagonists of a functionalist architecture at the TH Delft


Evelien van Es
VU Amsterdam
Carola Hein
TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment
Herman van Bergeijk
TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment
Keywords: inaugural speech


Though unalike in personality, functionalist architects Johannes Hendrik (Jo) van den Broek (1898-1978) and Jacob Berend (Jaap) Bakema (1914-1981) were inextricably bound up with each other both as partners in their Rotterdam office, Van den Broek and Bakema Architects, and as professors at the Technical College of Delft. [Fig. 1] Each represents a type of Dutch functionalism. Van den Broek was one of the founders of Nieuwe Bouwen, the modernist movement in Dutch architecture and construction after 1930; Bakema was among the enthusiastic architects of the post-war period moving modernist architecture in a new direction. Van den Broek and Bakema were two outstanding and outspoken characters, invariably typified in architectural historical literature as opposites: the analyst and the idealist, the pragmatist and the philosopher, the schoolmaster and the priest. Van den Broek and Bakema Architects was a key player in the postwar reconstruction of the Netherlands. Despite the sheer size of the task and the shortage of manpower and building materials, the Netherlands had quickly mounted a large-scale operation to rebuild bombed areas with industrially manufactured mass housing and a new cityscape.

Van den Broek and Bakema Architects was known for its large-scale building projects, its problem-solving ability, and it generated new ideas about architecture, urbanism, and society. After the war, both architects were appointed extraordinary professors at the Technical College of Delft; Van den Broek from 1947 until 1964 and Bakema from 1964 until his death in 1981. Each left his mark on both architectural education and the atmosphere of the Department of Architecture.

Because of the grand scale of construction in the first decades after the war, Van den Broek and Bakema asked themselves what the architect’s role and responsibility were in an increasingly technology-dominated society. It is not surprising that this question was the main theme in their teaching and in their inaugural speeches. Van den Broek gave his inaugural speech in 1948; Bakema in 1964. These two dates mark more or less the start and the completion of the post-war reconstruction.

The Chair History of Architecture and Urban Planning publishes their inaugural speeches with a small critical apparatus, to discuss these professors at the Technical College and the work that they did with students; and to shed new light on a lesser known period in these men’s careers, as well as to contribute to the history of the Technical College in Delft, in particular of its role in architecture and planning education in post-war society.

Author Biographies

Evelien van Es, VU Amsterdam

Evelien van Es studied architecture history at the Free University of Amsterdam and is specialized in architecture and urban planning of the nineteenth and twentieth century. Her master thesis dealed with the reconstruction of the seaside resort of Scheveningen. After graduation Evelien worked as curator for the collection of the Netherlands Architecture Institute. In 2003 she started her own research office and worked for various clients including the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, municipalities and architecture offices. She wrote articles on a wide range of topics in the field of architecture and town planning, advises in the field of cultural heritage and is guest tutor at the Department of Architecture at the Delft University of Technology. Recent projects include research for and editing of the publication Atlas of the Functional City. CIAM and Comparative Analysis; a research project on urban renewal in Dutch cities during the 70’s and 80’s; and cultural historic analyses of several Rotterdam city quarters.

Carola Hein, TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment

Carola Hein is Professor and Head, Chair History of Architecture and Urban Planning at TU Delft. She has published widely on topics in contemporary and historical architectural and urban planning — notably in Europe and Japan. Among other major grants, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship to pursue research on The Global Architecture of Oil and an Alexander von Humboldt fellowship to investigate large-scale urban transformation in Hamburg in international context between 1842 and 2008. Her current research interests include transmission of architectural and urban ideas along international networks, focusing specifically on port cities and the global architecture of oil. She serves as Editor for the Americas for the journal Planning Perspectives and as Asia book review editor for the Journal of Urban History. Her books include: The Capital of Europe. Architecture and Urban Planning for the European Union (2004), The Routledge Handbook of Planning History (2018), Port Cities: Dynamic Landscapes and Global Networks (2011), Brussels: Perspectives on a European Capital (2007), European Brussels. Whose capital? Whose city? (2006), Rebuilding Urban Japan after 1945 (2003), and Cities, Autonomy and Decentralisation in Japan. (2006), Hauptstadt Berlin 1957-58 (1991). She has also published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals, books, and magazines.

Herman van Bergeijk, TU Delft, Architecture and the Built Environment

Herman van Bergeijk is an architectural historian who studied in the Netherlands (Groningen) and Italy (Venice). After working abroad and teaching at many universities in the United States, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands he obtained his Ph.D. in 1995 with a study into the work of the architect and town planner W.M. Dudok. In 1997 he was appointed at the University of Technology in Delft. In 2003 he taught a year at the Bauhausuniversität in Weimar. Since 2004 he has been an Associate Professor in Architectural History in Delft. He has curated many exhibitions and published extensively on 17th and 20th Dutch and Italian architecture. Recent publications include: Het handschrift van de architect. Schetsen van Nicolaas Lansdorp en tijdgenoten (together with Michiel Riedijk)(2014), Aesthetic Economy. Objectivity in Dutch architecture (2014), and Jan Duiker, bouwkundig ingenieur (1890-1935). Van warm naar koud (2016). In the moment he is studying the more traditional architects in the 20th century, especially the work of A.J. Kropholler. He is an editor of the cultural magazine Eigenbouwer.



February 12, 2019

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