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Chaos and Order

'Chaos and Order' (1920-1927) is Hendrik Wijdeveld’s first step towards a city-less city. This alternative expansion plan for Amsterdam deserves to be seen as a universal model for the gradual blending of the urban and natural environments.

Like Berlage’s ‘South Plan’, ‘Chaos and Order’ is a classic architect’s plan. In the early twentieth century, urban planning is still in its infancy. The perfect geometrical regularity of the plan fits into a utopian tradition of the ideal city, a concept that can be traced from the Renaissance through to De Bazel’s ‘World Capital City’ of 1905 and Berlage’s 'Pantheon of Mankind’ of 1916.

Wijdeveld’s plan also recalls the urban planning scheme that R. Eberstadt and B. Mohring develop in 1910 for the Great Berlin competition, and which is also eagerly received in the Netherlands. They claim that the traditional concentric expansions are stifling the city by creating more distance between the city and the surrounding natural world. R. Eberstadt and B. Mohring believe that radial green spokes running straight into the city centre offer an entirely new approach to integrating the built and natural environment.

Wijdeveld amplifies the rural nature of this model by concentrating residential structures in separate, high-rise apartment blocks built along radial boulevards. This dissolves the traditional, closed vista of the city into a scenographic, park-like landscape with ample opportunities for active recreation. At the heart of his concept is nature, which is counter to Le Corbusier’s 'Ville Radieuze' (1922) in which nature is assigned a meaningless, subordinate role in his vision of radical abstraction and geometrical precision. Wijdeveld’s reference is to Expressionist glass architecture which is derived from the crystal as symbol of spirituality and the confluence of nature and culture.


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