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Aldo van Eyck

16-03-1918 - 13-01-1999

Aldo van Eyck (1918-1999) attacks post-war modernism for being too large scale and anonymous, and for losing sight of the human aspect. 'Team 10' and the journal ‘Forum’ are the most important platforms for disseminating his views. With Herman Hertzberger and Piet Blom he represents structuralism in Dutch architecture and is also a seminal figure in urban renewal (in Amsterdam).

Aldo van Eyck is born in Driebergen, the son of the poet Pieter Nicolaas van Eyck, and grows up in England. He studies architecture in Zurich and, after the second world war, is appointed to the Public Works Department in Amsterdam where he primarily designs playgrounds.

Van Eyck establishes his own firm of architects in 1951 and is very active in the Dutch branch of the Congrès Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne (CIAM). In 1953, there was a shift in thinking among the CIAM members , who were turning away from functionalism, and warning that slanting design too much towards modernism meant forgetting the human aspect. The tenth CIAM congress in 1956 is prepared by the so-called ´Team 10´, consisting of an international group of architects along with van Eyck. The congress focuses on young architects and the conflict between ‘old’ and ‘new’ architects reaches a peak that culminates in disbanding the CIAM in 1959. In that year, Van Eyck and a number of others also take over the editorial team of Forum architecture journal, and begin to disseminate the new direction they have decided to follow. 

The first edifice in the style of the new generation, also referred to as structuralism, is the Orphanage (Burgerweeshuis) built between 1955-1960 in Amsterdam. The design composes a complex pattern of cubes covered by concrete cupolas with skylights. Throughout the building, Van Eyck created intimate corners to allow the children to have their own space. He applied a similar approach to the Hubertus House in Amsterdam, which was completed between 1973-1981. Here, however, he experiments with a more lavish use of colour and transparency, partly inspired by the ideas of his wife Hannie van Eyck-van Rooijen, who officially becomes his associate in 1983.

Van Eyck is also a distinguished theoretician, expounding his ideas on the direction of architecture through his work for CIAM and Forum. He also continues to be an influential figure in the field as extraordinary professor at the Delft University of Technology from 1966 to 1976. 

Iconic designs and buildings by Van Eyck include Wheels of Heaven (1963, unrealised), the Pastoor van Arskerk in The Hague (1964-1969), the urban regeneration of the Nieuwmarkt area in Amsterdam (1970, with Theo Bosch), the Maranatha Church (1983-1992), the ESTEC Centre in Noordwijk (1984-1989), the Tripolis office complex in Amsterdam (1990-1994), and the expansion of the Dutch Audit Office (1992-1997) in The Hague.

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