Big Soft Orange

Michael Speaks 

Dutch architecture has become as prominent at the end of the 20th century as it was at the beginning of the century; perhaps more importantly, it is as responsible for developing a new approach to contemporary modernity as it was in helping to initiate the heroic period of modern architecture. Following in the wake of Rem Koolhaas’s emergence as one of the most influential architects in the world today, a host of young Dutch architecture offices are now themselves gaining worldwide attention. Like Koolhaas these offices are interested in the BIG. They focus, however, not on the big building though they are certainly fascinated by its potential but on the possibilities offered by exploiting a new emphasis on quantity in the Netherlands and elsewhere in the world. As a result of Vinex, The Fourth Report on Physical Planning in the Netherlands, the Dutch government has mandated that 1,100,000 new dwellings be built by the year 2005. This is quantitatively equivalent to the entire post-war reconstruction effort in Holland. Such a turn to the big has necessitated in Holland the development of a new disposition towards the practice of architecture itself. There is, among these Dutch offices, for example, a de-emphasis on the kind of aestheticized form generation that dominated architecture in the 1980s and early 1990s, and a renewed emphasis on the analysis and manipulation of material and immaterial processes, logics and codes. Indeed, the growing importance of scenario planning, profiling, as well as other temporally-based steering mechanisms signals an emergent SOFT approach to the practice of architecture prevalent among all four offices featured in this exhibition...[+]

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