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Faculty of Architecture, Delft University of Technology

For almost forty years, the Faculty of Architecture building was a remarkable feature on the campus of Delft University of Technology. The use of concrete structures and concrete sheeting characterises the use of robust materials Van den Broek and Bakema incorporated into their work.

It is a building from the functionalistic tradition of the International Style, a movement that had actually passed its peak when the building was completed in 1970. The open, flexibly partitionable main hall that served as a meeting place was more in line with the spirit of the seventies.

The initial design drawings date back to 1956, when a private competition was organised among professors and former professors who taught the Architecture course. The four entrants were J.H. van den Broek, G.H.M. Holt, M.N. Lansdorp and C. Wegener Sleeswijk. The jury adjudged the best entry to be the work by Van den Broek, who was a member of the jury himself. In 1960, the design was further developed by the Van den Broek and Bakema firm of architects.

The architectural shape of the building was derived from the functional principle of the education programme. The building consists of two sections: an elongated high-rise structure and a low entrance area. The low-rise section comprises a number of volumes at right angles to the high-rise section that look as if they have been slid underneath it. The high-rise section was intended for specific educational areas, based on the five-year study programme, with each academic year having its own double floor. The low-rise section was intended for the more general, communal areas such as the library, offices and workshops. As far back as the design phase, the building was discussed extensively as an educational instrument during the debating society lectures given by Van den Broek, who taught at the Faculty of Architecture at the time.

The transition between the educational areas in the high-rise section and the general services in the two-storey low-rise section was formed by the main hall. Apart from functioning as a traffic hub, this hall also served as a meeting place for students. The hall had the characteristics of a public street, with telephone boxes and advertising pillars, forming as open a link as possible to the surroundings on the ground floor. The concrete sheeting used on the outside was also used in the main hall in order to bring the outside atmosphere indoors. Removable walls and partitions created a flexible area that reflected the democratisation movement of the seventies.

Two years after its completion, Bakema assessed the use of ‘the street’ in Bouw magazine. He wrote: ‘The street is starting to become liveable. Posters are being put up a bit randomly, but the posters and even the wall hangings are beginning to come into their own (the ones put up by activist groups are the most popular!). People phone there, come out to the street from the canteen and use it to walk onto the outdoor terrace. The announcements about project groups, Veringa’s plans [and] Marx’s intentions, the Stylos bookshop, democracy as a means for educational innovation (and vice versa!) have all taken root, just like the table tennis played by activists during their break [..] Bouw 23 (1971) p. 903.

In the same article, Bakema reflected on the boundaries of functionalistic architecture: ‘Something that has to happen at a certain location in the world (in this case Berlageweg no. 1, Delft) is reported in a building programme. But you keep getting the impression that what you are told is only a miniscule part of what is actually going to happen at that location.’

In May 2008, the buiding was destroyed by fire.

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