The Future of Structuralism

Josh Stevenson-Brown (Designer), Lidwine Spoormans (Developer), Wouter Willers (Developer), Lidy Meijers (Developer), Alexander de Ridder (Developer), Ivan Nevzgodin (Developer), Frank Koopman (Developer), Wessel de Jonge (Developer)

Research output: Non-textual formExhibitionPopular


Structuralism represents an architecture that can interact, grow and adapt. The buildings can be recognised by their vivid open structures, composition of small units, and a spatial organisation like a city. As a reaction to CIAM functionalism, the avant-garde members of Team 10 proposed inclusive and social space and a more human form of urbanism and architecture. Starting in 1959, Dutch Structuralism became a very influential movement in the development of architecture in The Netherlands.
Now the Structuralist legacy has become heritage. Once the agent of a new era, the pioneering nature of this architecture seems to have faded and it is this building stock that is now in need of renewal. Although some of the Structuralist buildings have become icons, their existence is at stake. Many buildings are facing transformation or demolition, because they do not meet contemporary demands. Despite the design of open structures, being flexible for the future by extrapolation of the structure or adaptation within the building, many of the Structuralist buildings show shortcomings in for example; indoor climate, aesthetic appearance and programmatic possibilities.

Recently, the renovation of Aldo van Eyck’s orphanage in Amsterdam has been completed, which once was the inspirational example for many of his contemporaries. Other icons of Structuralism still await a new future, like the Centraal Beheer office in Apeldoorn and the Ministry of Social Affairs in The Hague designed by Herman Hertzberger. Although several buildings have been renovated, there are no standard solutions. We believe that profound knowledge about both the original Structuralist buildings and the argumentation for redesign can help to prepare intervention strategies for upcoming projects. What building characteristics prove to be successful? Are these specific for one building, the oeuvre of one architect or widespread among this generation of buildings? Do renovation concepts reuse or contradict initial design themes? How can necessary renovations do justice to the cultural and architectural values of these icons? Do the icons prove what is promised? Or do we need alternative strategies?

This exhibition ‘The Future of Structuralism’ shows our search for what Structuralism is and our assessment of some of its opportunities and shortcomings. But most importantly, it focusses on potential strategies for reuse. The structure of the exhibition is thematic. By focusing on several themes that were important in Structuralism, we aim to link ideology, current examples from practice of transformed Structuralist buildings and design strategies.
Through the exhibition and a debate at the opening event, we hope to bring the work from within the chair to a wider audience and add new perspectives to the debate on the movement and its future values.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Structuralism
  • Education
  • Reuse
  • Renovation
  • Transformation
  • Design strategy


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