In the exhibition The Human Insect: Antenna Architectures 1887-2017 curator and architecture theorist Mark Wigley explores 130 years of antenna architecture, in which architects engaged with this thinnest, least visible part of a building that actually has the greatest effect on architecture. The exhibition contains many original drawings and photographs from the collection.
Highlighted: Jaap Bakema's 'Euromast'
Bakema designed the 125-meter observation tower on the occasion of the first international horticulture exhibition "Floriade", which was staged in Rotterdam in 1960. The Euromast was to be the exhibition's major showpiece. The municipal council wanted to erect a structure that not only offered a view of the temporary exhibition in the Park, but, as a permanent monument, also reflected the pride of the city of Rotterdam.
Bakema devised a construction that was to serve not only as an observation tower but also as a meeting center. He based his idea for the structure on the Wolkenbügel projects designed by El Lissitzky in the 1920s. In the same way that the Wolkenbügels offered views of the new Greater Moscow, the Euromast was to offer views to the reconstructed city of Rotterdam. Bakema envisaged a similar important role for the Euromast. The various spaces in the Euromast were to serve as conference rooms for public authorities.
The four observation posts are located at different heights and point in different directions, so that each of them offers a view of a different part of the area. The cabin on the first and lowest level offers a view of the port and the Park. The one on the second level overlooks the city of Rotterdam. The cabin on the third level looks over the lower course of the Rhine. The view from the cabin on the fourth level extends to the Delta Works. The small platform at the top of the tower is an observation point and has a radar and television installation.
Bakema's design for the Euromast was not realized. The municipal council preferred the design by H.A. Maaskant. The design however was always very dear to Bakema. The model sat in his office at the firm of Van den Broek en Bakema Architecten for a long time. To Bakema, the design's symbolism was contained in the relationship between the various levels and the energetic, rising spiral movement. After 1957, this theme recurred regularly in other designs, such as the Terneuzen town hall (1963-1972). The town hall was designed as a pyramid-shaped spiral. The storeys are interconnected by means of split levels. However, nowhere was the principle of the spiral movement carried so far as in the design for the Dutch pavilion at the World Fair in Osaka (1968-1970). The pavilion consisted of three containers linked to towers that rose from the water like a spiral.