On Tuesday 15 October, the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg opened Russia’s first exhibition on Dutch postwar architecture. Through 200 items from the collection of Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, including photographs, drawings and models, Architecture the Dutch Way, 1945–2000 illustrates how the Netherlands reshaped itself after the Second World War. Over the decades, the ideal of communality made way for more diversity, reflecting society’s increasing individualisation. Postwar Dutch architecture and city planning saw society as something that could be engineered and sought to design for “the common man”. The exhibition highlights these tendencies and reveals similarities and differences between Dutch and Russian architecture.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Dutch architects, artists and intellectuals maintained close links with their Russian colleagues. After the war, architectural assignments and achievements in the two countries show striking similarities, despite the different political systems that produced them. With reconstruction after the devastation of war, the mass production of social housing, and the use of traditional architectural styles, building in the Netherlands shared features with Soviet architecture under socialism.
The exhibition also looks at the phenomena of consumption and mass recreation, which boomed after the war under Western European capitalism. With the recent introduction of a market economy in Russia, similar developments are now taking place there too. And as the country embraces capitalism, Dutch architects are actively participating in Russian architectural practice.
Het Nieuwe Instituut has loaned work from its collection by people including Johan Niegeman, Van den Broek & Bakema, J.J.P. Oud, J.F. Berghoef, Sybold van Ravesteyn, Gerrit Rietveld, Piet Blom, Herman Hertzberger, Hendrik Wijdeveld, and Hugh Maaskant. The loan, the largest in the institute’s history, is supplemented with work from contemporary Dutch architectural offices such as MVRDV, Soeters van Eldonk Architecten, Mecanoo Architecten and UN Studio.
A conference on Dutch-Russian relations in architecture and city planning up to the present took place at the Hermitage the day after the opening. Subjects included prewar Dutch-Russian involvement, the influence of Dutch structuralism on Soviet architecture, and contemporary building practice in Russia as experienced by Dutch architects including Erick van Egeraat and De Architekten Cie.
2013: Netherlands-Russia year
Architecture the Dutch Way is a joint project of Het Nieuwe Instituutand the Hermitage. It is curated by Ellen Smit of Het Nieuwe Instituut, Ksenia Malich of the Hermitage, and Bart Goldhoorn, the publisher of Project Russia and curator of the Moscow Architecture Biennale. The exhibition, organised as part of Netherlands-Russia year, will be on view at the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg from Wednesday 16 October through Sunday 12 January.
Hermitage St. Petersburg
Tuesday — Saturday
10.00 — 17.00
Sundays and national holidays
11.00 — 17.00