Cast in Concrete

Growth and Change in Jaap Bakema’s Oeuvre

Jaap Bakema’s work and position were marked by an unshakeable belief in society’s engineerability. In his many lectures and publications he also noted a number of reservations about decision-making processes and life itself as the greater reality outside architecture’s; his optimism nevertheless seemed to know no bounds. Not only when he formulated answers to the questions of the housing shortage and the major planning issues of his own era, but also when he explained his vision of a possible future beyond the year 2000, in the twenty-first century. When Bakema wrote down his ideas for the presentation of the Netherlands at the World Expo in Osaka in 1970, he unreservedly stated about his own small country bordering the North Sea: ‘A country is planning its own change’, after which a series of catchwords painted an image picture of a hypermodern country that fearlessly embraces the future, even moulds it to its will, from water management to energy policy, from knowledge economy to open society. Visual elements in Bakema’s narrative were ‘the water, the skies, the light’ and ‘grass, corn, flowers and houses’, such as these were to be found in the work of Rembrandt, Mondrian, Van Gogh and even Provo.