Bakema and van den Broek in their office, 1960 - photo: Carel Blazer

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Van den Broek & Bakema Architecture and Urban Design

Since 1948 the Rotterdam architectural firm Van den Broek and Bakema has compiled an enormous oeuvre. The office was active at home and abroad - as far away as Japan and Saudi Arabia - but the majority of their work is in the Netherlands, much of it in Rotterdam. The office was responsible for the Departure Hall of the Holland Amerika Lijn (the transatlantic shipping company, now Café Rotterdam and Cruise Terminal), the Lijnbaan shopping mall, shops for Ter Meulen, Huf and De Klerk (now Donner bookshop), the harbour radar stations, and many other prominent structures that mark the Rotterdam urban landscape.

The office built throughout the Netherlands - from whole neighbourhoods in Leeuwarden to the town hall in Terneuzen. It is therefore no exaggeration to state that practically everyone in the Netherlands has come into contact at one time or another with the work of Van den Broek and Bakema, whether shopping on the Lijnbaan, holidaying at Center Parcs, or residing in Buikslotermeer.

J.H. van den Broek (1898-1978) and J.B. Bakema (1914-1981) were the most important architects at the office, but the significance and contribution of their assistant architects was always great. Van den Broek, whose reputation had been established even before the war, was to leave the office in the early 1970s, while Bakema remained until his death in 1981. The office continued in existence after his death, and in 1988 a new management was put in place, which continues under the same name today.

The exhibition at the NAI is the largest survey ever of work by Van den Broek and Bakema. The Function of the Form contains original drawings and models, photographs, film footage and audio tapes, and offers not only an overview of the development of the architecture and urban design by Van den Broek and Bakema but also of how the office's way of presenting its work in drawings and models was to develop over the years.

The function of the Form - Van den Broek & Bakema Architecture and Urban Design

Netherlands Architecture Institute - February 5 until April 24, 2000
Catalogue to be published by NAi Publishers