Stereotypes regarding modernist architecture, and in particular the negative discourse on Amsterdam’s Bijlmer estate, have been quite crucial in shaping Failed Architecture’s way of thinking in its early years. Can we really blame the architecture for what went wrong? How can an entire neighbourhood, where thousands of people continue to live their lives on a daily basis, be simply dismissed as a grand failure? In recent years, however, there has been a slow but steady reappreciation of modernist architecture taking place, but rather for its aesthetics than its social ideals.
While architecture from that era is still being demolished at a large scale, this renewed interest is modernist architecture has also allowed investors to renovate entire blocks of it, and sell the individual apartments for lucrative prices. One of the last remaining Bijlmer flats, Kleiburg, went through a similar process, which was later even given the Mies van der Rohe Award and other major architecture prizes. For this episode, we revisit Kleiburg with Fenna Haakma Wagenaar, an architect who grew up in the flat, and discuss the simultaneous disregard and reappreciation of modernist housing estates with critical expert Owen Hatherley.
-Fenna Haakma Wagenaar is an architect and currently design lead at the Municipality of Amsterdam. She grew up in Kleiburg.
-Owen Hatherley is an architectural historian and author of such books as Militant Modernism, A New Kind of Bleak and The Ministry of Nostalgia.
– SBMG (Sawtu Boys Money Gang) consists of rappers Chivv and Henkie T; their music video Oeh Na Na features in the episode and was largely shot in and around Kleiburg (full video below).
This episode is directed by René Boer / the Failed Architecture team.