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Rotterdam museum exhibits architects’ sketches of city nightlife

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A collection of artworks by Dutch architects which depict urban nightlife has gone on display at the Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam

‘Nightbirds’ brings together sketches, paintings and models in which the architects depict city vistas at night when home to the buzz of after-hours socialising.

Interior view of the main hall of the theater

Interior view of the main hall of the theater “de Tamboer” in Hoogeveen by O. Greiner (1990-1997). Image: Het Nieuwe Instituut.

The pictures centre on theatres, restaurants and dance halls and while some focus on recognisable structures, others simply sketch a sense of night time gatherings, with the aim of capturing the emotions of nightlife rather than any accurate depictions of building projects.

E.J.S.G. Boissevain. Evening impression of an exhibition building, 1930–1934. Collection Het Nieuwe Instituut.

E.J.S.G. Boissevain. Evening impression of an exhibition building, 1930–1934. Collection Het Nieuwe Instituut.

Guus Beumer, director of the Het Nieuwe Instituut, explains how the exhibition was put together from the institute’s materials which are not usually on display, and is the second in a series of events under the banner ‘Surprising Finds from the Collection’.

Most images show building exteriors, such as an image by Johannes B. Ingwersen of Leibsplein, a large square in central Amsterdam known for its lively nature, while a picture by Willem Marinus Dudok depicts De Bijenkorf, a department store in Rotterdam, which was demolished in the 1940s.

‘This was the only building left standing in that part of Rotterdam after World War II,’ says Beumer. ‘But after the war, planners wanted a tabula rasa, so it was demolished.’

Picture of Bijenkorf by Willem Marinus Dudok. Image: Het Niuewe Instituut.

Picture of Bijenkorf by Willem Marinus Dudok. Image: Het Niuewe Instituut.

Some architects also attempt to depict human activity and movement, such as Onno Greiner who sketched a theatre production in action or Koenraad Limperg who drew his impressions of activity at a cabaret.

Scene in a night bar by K. Limperg, (1935-1940). Image: Het Nieuwe Instituut.

Scene in a night bar by K. Limperg, (1935-1940). Image: Het Nieuwe Instituut.

Other works depict projects which were never built. These include paintings by architects Schenider and Hanau who imagined ornate restaurant interiors complete with couples dressed in formal dining wear.

‘These images try to recreate the idea of elegant English dining,’ says Beumer. ‘But it was just an idea, here in the Netherlands we are too egalitarian to build something like this.’

Also on display is a model of Het Groote Volkstheater, a theatre pavilion designed by Hendricus T. Wijdeveld but which was never realised.

Model of Het Groote Volkstheater as designed by H.Th. Wijdeveld (1885-1987).

Model of Het Groote Volkstheater as designed by H.Th. Wijdeveld (1885-1987).

‘Can you imagine if they had built that?’ says Beumer. ‘It’s so obviously sexual. People would think that in Holland we think about sex all the time.’

Exhibition:

Nightbirds
Het Nieuwe Instituut, Museumpark 25, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Until 4 January 2015
hetnieuweinstituut.nl

 

 

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