The activities of the Jaap Bakea Study Centre are focused on opening the rich collection of the State Archive for Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning, which is managed by Het Nieuwe Instituut. This is achieved by research projects that operate on the intersection of fundamental historical-theoretic research and urgent societal questions. The projects result in public presentations: from seminars and lectures to publications and exhibitions. The projects are clustered around a number of central themes: the Open Society, Structuralism, Total Space and Museology.
Dutch Structuralism is one of the most important Dutch contributions to modern architecture in the second half of the twentieth century. This architectural movement of the late 1950s and early 1960s distanced itself from the technocratic planning that guided the post-war reconstruction of the country. It called for attention to the poetic and emotional side of architecture in order to achieve a fully humane living environment.
The combination of archival research and public presentation naturally leads to explorations of, and reflections on, questions of museology. Public presentation can assume all kind of formats, but within museological practice the exhibition counts as the most important vehicle for exhibiting historical material to a wide audience. But what sort of knowledge production is constituted by architectural exhibitions? The Jaap Bakema Study Centre probes these questions in various settings, often in collaboration with international partners.
Total Space explores interdisciplinary exchanges between the fields of architecture, urban planning, anthropology and systems theory. Relatively recent concepts such as ecology and environment are important, as are concepts of networks and megastructures. From the first propositions for networked cities and megastructures in the 1950s and 1960s, up to developments such as smart cities and virtual territories today, the concept of a total, all-encompassing space remains a recurrent motif.
The Open Society
Jaap Bakema (1914-1981), after whom the centre is named, was a leading architect of the post-war modern period, both within the avant-garde CIAM and with its successor, Team 10. He strived to build for an open society: democratic, egalitarian, and accessible to everyone. He felt that architecture should contribute to the emancipation of the masses, whilst also leaving room for the development of the individual citizen.