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Column Adriaan Mout | Collective comeback: vain or chance?

23 October 2018

Cobouw adriaan mout 190116 collective comeback

Sometimes it's nice to listen to your old teachers from the university again. That opportunity was there last week when Herman Hertzberger opened the exhibition Collective Comeback in the Amsterdam Architecture Center. In general, he had few good words for the current generation of architects who, according to him, do not see what is really needed. He finds them vain tufts that do not love people.

The old man was also critical about the comparison that the exhibition tries to make between the ideals of collectivity from 1965-1985 and the so-called revival of collective architecture now. Overflow pays off and leads to meeting each other and a better society is his conviction. Now we are paid for overflow in the search for ever sharper gross-net ratios. Designing on excel sheets instead of on lime paper.

We now know that the overflow from then no longer works. On the contrary, it has often led to degeneration and crime. And affordability certainly plays a role in the so-called revival of collective architecture. But furthermore, the motives behind idealistic themes have not really changed so much and are just as current. In Amsterdam, more than half of the households consist of 1 person. On a national level, this will soon be 1 in 4. With loneliness as one of the major current social problems as a result. The sharing of facilities leads to meetings. Sharing and collectivity also belong to a trend in which personal property is no longer leading.

If Hertzberger got rid of his cynical old-man's glasses, he would see that the ideals of those days are still alive. They provide an answer to current issues of isolation, compaction, distribution of scarcity and finiteness of raw materials and energy. Let's use the Collective Comeback to really take steps towards new sustainable living and living forms.

January 2019,