The dwelling as a mass product: Authenticity in post-war housing estates

Jaap Evert Abrahamse, R.J. Rutte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

From the 1960s, Dutch mass housing construction was for a while dominated by modernism. Housing developments shot up in double quick time – after the existing cultural landscape had first been totally erased. In both typology and architecture, planners and architects strove to avoid any sense of continuity between these new estates and their predecessors: architecture was no more than the expression of function by means of material and technology. The following period saw the construction of housing estates that didn’t really want to be housing estates, aspiring instead to be a Zuiderzee town (Almere Haven), a collage of contrived themes (Kattenbroek in Amersfoort), or a Dutch canal city (Brandevoort in Helmond). Clearly, there can be no question of authenticity when such identities are arbitrarily pasted on.

Perhaps we should conclude that only those housing developments that do not aspire to be anything other than what they are – housing developments – are authentic: which is to say, the hardcore modernist housing estates of the 1960s. So one may well ask whether, in this context, the term authenticity has any meaning at all after the modernist period. But that need not be a problem because on another point the modernists have been proved right: a new-build dwelling is an interchangeable mass product, even in postmodern times.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-43
Number of pages6
JournalBulletin KNOB: Koninklijke Nederlandse Oudheidkundige Bond
Volume119
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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