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Another Reality

The Hague, the Netherlands
Stroom Den Haag
research, installation
culture, education, leisure
70 sqm
Stroom Community of Practice

The Another Reality exhibition at Stroom Den Haag doesn’t focus on the buildings Lina Bo Bardi made, but rather on the way she achieved these results. Just like Lina, Dutch architect Aldo van Eyck used simple elements to create his fantastic playgrounds. Namelok wrote a manual and designed building blocks to invite people into building extraordinary outdoor furniture.

In the documentary “‘Ga naar Bahia’, had Lina hem gezegd” (“‘Go to Bahia’, Lina said”), Aldo van Eyck’s fascination for Lina Bo Bardi can’t be misunderstood. The beautiful thing about the connection between the two architects is that both shared the same ideas at the same time, but on different continents. Aldo was one of the most influential structuralists, a post-war reaction to the dominant rational modernity. The Netherlands were in need for a new urban planning approach, and Aldo, with his humane architecture, seemed to be the man for the job. He pleaded for a public realm where human scale was visible (just like Lina), especially for children. The post-war baby boom changed the status of a child as individual forever.

In 1947, Aldo started designing his first public playgrounds in Amsterdam. Back then, there were only fenced playgrounds managed by playground associations. Children had to be a member to be able to play there. For his public playgrounds, Aldo created multiple composition techniques and considered the opinion of neighborhood residents. The result was 700 playgrounds spread across the country, with a minimal intervention for maximal outcome. With his playgrounds, he could practice his ideas about architecture, relativity and imagination. Wrecked and abandoned places in the city were developed into intimate meeting places for social interaction for all age groups. He created both the urban and social landscape with existing structures and small additions, something Lina also sought in her work.

The key of his success was that he always used a fixed set of elements that could be combined in numerous ways and stimulated the child’s fantasies.

The courtyard of Stroom Den Haag is an intimate space connected to a dead end side street. Namelok, together with the Stroom Community of Practice, used Aldo’s and Lina’s theories and architecture to design an own set of elements. With these elements, various structures can be made to complement the Another Reality exhibition. One of the three elements is a concrete building block. Concrete is frequently used in Lina’s as well as Aldo’s designs. Lina even understood concrete as an organic and dynamic material.

The concrete blocks can be combined with two other elements (metal bars and wooden plates) to design whatever the exhibition program asks for. In the manual, Namelok highlighted four of the possibilities: a bar, tables and chairs, and a totem. But the manual is a last resort – first it’s up to the participants to play around.