Thursday February 18, the Netherlands Architecture Institute [NAi] held a pre-opening of the ‘Disputed City’ – an exhibition about the outcry architecture can cause. This was followed by a lecture by NAi-director Ole Bouman on the ‘Architecture of Consequence‘, the theme of another exhibit, opening the following day. Both measure the effect of architecture on mankind.
The ‘Disputed City‘ [Strijd om de Stad] exhibition does more than displaying 40 controversial architectural proposals, in models and video, but has the ambition to re-open a debate, to take a position, and for the public to engage with:
The NAi is building its own city in Gallery 2: City of the Netherlands. A city consisting of and shaped by many different designs and architects. And, as it should be, the public has a chance to get involved. Visitors can share their views on a number of designs that will be included in the city. Starting in February 2010, the NAi will set up forty controversial models. Forty designs that prompted an outcry. (…) The NAi is again opening these projects up to debate. Visitors will get a chance to choose which of the forty controversial designs merit a place in the City of the Netherlands, and which deserve to be scrapped.
The ‘Architecture of Consequence’ [Architectuur als Noodzaak] exhibition, at the other hand, looks at the role Dutch architecture can play in order to deal with a global culture of crisis:
‘Architecture of Consequence’ articulates the NAi’s long-term mission to arrive at an agenda for architectural responses to today’s pressing social concerns. This innovative agenda challenges urban designers to come up with progressive proposals and ideas, aimed at accomplishing the transition from a reactive to a proactive design practice.
Next to the traveling exhibition, there is also a book publication discussing the work of 25 Dutch design firms that all approach city-making from the context of societal issues. If you happen to be in Rotterdam in the coming period, a visit to both exhibitions is highly recommended.
Overall the evening in the NAi felt like drifting in-between taking positions: at the one hand the freedom to choose, to ponder and question the proposals of the ‘Disputed City’; at the other hand the urgency for architects to react upon the current industry crisis. There is no choice when it comes to engaging with the ‘Architecture of Consequence’. The debate after the lecture, led by DutchDFA-director Christine de Baan, was broad, seemed to call for a new grand gesture, while recognizing the marginal position of the architect in the social debate.
Pictures by movingcities.org