Het Nieuwe Instituut is lending the scale model of Jaap Bakema’s ‘Euromast’ to the Rijksmuseum for the small presentation around Vilmos Huszár within the museum’s permanent twentieth-century displays. The institute is also lending a monotype of Huszár’s hand and a poster by Johan Niegeman. These loans are part of a long-term curatorial partnership between Het Nieuwe Instituut and the Rijksmuseum.
The first Floriade horticultural exhibition was held in Rotterdam in 1960. The city council held a competition to erect an observation tower that would not only provide a view of the temporary exhibition in the neighbouring city park, but would also be a permanent monument to Rotterdam’s civic pride. Although Bakema’s design for the Euromast was not chosen – the city council gave the commission to Hugh Maaskant – this project remained close to Bakema’s heart: ‘The symbolic approach, or my dream, was for the tower to be a government decision centre for different levels of political discussion. A tower which could perhaps be a sign of freedom and cooperation. Van Euromast tot het Nederlands paviljoen in Osaka’ (From the Euromast to the Dutch pavilion in Osaka), Forum, vol. 34 (1990), no. 3, pp. 34-37.
Bakema conceived a structure that would serve not only as an observation tower but also as a government meeting centre. He took inspiration for his design from El Lissitzky’s Wolkenbügel projects from the 1920s. Just as the Wolkenbügels were to act as gateways to Moscow, so the Euromast was to mark the entry to a reconstructed Rotterdam. In El Lissitzky’s plan, the Wolkenbügels would provide offices for the USSR’s urban planning bodies. Bakema envisaged a similarly important role for the Euromast, whose various levels would house spaces where government committees could meet. Bakema’s design comprises four independent levels stories fanning out from four columns and braced by aluminium cables. The four stories were intended to provide views of the city park, the city of Rotterdam, the lower reaches of the Rhine and the Deltaworks.
For many years, the Euromast model was kept in the studio of Van den Broek & Bakema Architects, and the sketches remain in the collection of Bakema’s family. For Bakema, the most important elements were the symbolism of the relationship between the different levels and the energetic, spiralling upwards movement. This principle is evident in several other designs after 1957. Terneuzen City Hall (1963-72), for example, consists of a pyramid-shaped spiral in which the floors are connected by split levels, and the Dutch pavilion for Expo ’70 in Osaka (1968-70) comprised three containers supported by towers that arose from the water like a screw.
Spring Collection at Kaufhaus Schocken
In the 1920s, Kaufhaus Schocken, owned by the Jewish Schocken brothers, was the most successful chain of department stores in Germany. The stores experienced stable growth through the use of efficient factories, intelligent purchasing and robust sales and business strategies. For the new store on the Aufessenplatz in Nuremberg, which opened in 1926, Johan Niegemann designed a poster for the frühjars (spring) collection. The building depicted, designed in 1925 by Erich Mendelsohn, is seen as a milestone of Functionalist architecture in Nuremberg.
The works by Huszár and Niegeman are on show from 6 May to 30 November 2019, the Euromast by J. Bakema is on display until 20 April 2020.
Since 2013 Het Nieuwe Instituut and the Rijksmuseum have had a curatorial partnership for the Rijksmuseum’s twentieth-century displays. Every few months a new selection is made from Het Nieuwe Instituut’s archives, with a focus on two periods: the avant-garde movements of the 1920s and 1930s, and the 1950s and 1960s. The Rijksmuseum takes care of the conservation and, where required, restoration of the drawings. Earlier selections have included works by Piet Blom, Hendrik Wijdeveld, Gerrit Rietveld, Jan Duiker, Cornelis van Eesteren and Herman Hertzberger.