Contemporary Traditionalism in the Netherlands
Published by nai010 publishers.
Essay by Hans Ibelings.
In the Netherlands, bastion of modernism, neomodernism, and supermodernism, contemporary traditionalism has been causing a stir since the 1990s. No fly-by-night trend is this. Throughout the country, years' worth of architectural and urban projects have been lined up by foreign designers such as Rob Krier, Adolfo Natalini, and Charles Vandenhove, and by Dutch practices such as Soeters Van Eldonk Ponec, Molenaar en Van Winden, and Scala. What unites these architects is their rejection of what Scala's Peter Drijver calls the "panting urge for innovation" possessed by most comtemporary architects. Instead of innovation, today's traditionalists tap into what is already there, drawing from the past and preferring means that have already proven their worth. In Hans Ibelings' Contemporary Traditionalism, the style is stripped of all populist and moralist arguments, and is analyzed from different angles: as an atypical Dutch phenomenon and an international movement, as a precursor of 70s and 80s postmodern thinking, as part of a traditionalist undercurrent reaching back at least a century, as an intellectual reaction to the limitations of modernism, and commercially, as a form of niche marketing for nostalgic imagery. By placing contemporary traditionalism in an international and historical perspective, Ibelings' answers the question of what contemporary traditionalism has to offer a 21st-century society.