The exhibition What is the Netherlands: 14 Entries to the World Expo features a series of fourteen exhibition models of Dutch pavilions, providing the first overview of the development of the Dutch contribution to the World’s Fairs. All fourteen models were made to the same scale, enabling a comparative analysis. The collection of Het Nieuwe Instituut played an indispensible role in the research into the pavilions.
Between modernity and nationalism
Hidden in the collection – carefully packed and conserved – are numerous design drawings of the Dutch pavilions at World Expos. The first two pavilions (1910 and 1915), designed by Rotterdam-based architect Willem Kromhout, display a tension between modernity and nationalism. In 1925, Jan Frederik Staal designed a contemporary ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ for Paris. Five years later, the Amsterdam-based architect Hendrik Wijdeveld was given free rein for a design on an elongated site in Antwerp (1930). Other collection highlights include the innovative design for the Dutch pavilion in Brussels (1958), which focussed on technological innovations in water management. The collection also includes the design for the futuristic pavilion for Osaka (1970) by Carel Weeber and Jaap Bakema.
The archive as research resource
These drawings and other materials from the collection were the basis for the research carried out by the curator, Stephan Petermann and his team at AMO, the research component of OMA. The design drawings and photographs of the pavilions were a valuable resource during the initial design phase of the exhibition models. AMO/OMA imported the plans, elevations, sections and drawings – many of which were already digitised – into AutoCAD and then created 3D computer models in SketchUp. The components were then cut with a laser cutter and fitted together like a 3D puzzle. The result is a 3D model based on 2D sources (design drawings). The models incorporate not only the principle lines of the designs, but also details of the exterior in order to give an impression of the facades. Copper or brass details have been added to illustrate the interior of the pavilions based on photographs and descriptions from magazines in the collection of the institute’s library.
By collecting and digitising archival materials relating to the World Expos, Het Nieuwe Instituut played an indispensible role in the research for the exhibition and the innovative design process of the models.
Text Clara Stille-Haardt, Heritage department.