An Un-Dutch Housing Experiment

The extended 1990s, the period from 1989 to 2001, was not only an important period of growth for Dutch architecture but also a key moment for the Dutch in reflecting on their identity. Crucial to that reflection, according to critic Bart Lootsma, was the publication in 1987 of a book by British-American historian Simon Schama on the culture and mentality of the Dutch golden age: The Embarrassment of Riches.1 Schama argues in his book that Dutch culture since the golden age has been characterized by a collective fear that inflated egos would turn prosperity into adversity. Therefore, the great social dilemma in the Republic, according to Schama, was how to reconcile wealth and morals. With the help of Calvin and Erasmus, the Dutch chose to renounce outward show and pompous behaviour as much as possible…


  • Bart Lootsma, SuperDutch: New Architecture in the Netherlands (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2000), 15