Lecture date: 1987-12-09
In 1958, after completing his studies at the Technical University in Delft, Herman Hetzberger returned to his native Amsterdam to set up a private practice. Youngest of the Forum Group, Hertzberger's accumulated works constitute a formidable oeuvre and an unparalleled didactic resource. Central to his position is that architecture is inextricably bound up with life. He studies social rituals and responses to the built environment with the same intensity that he looks at historical buildings or keeps revisiting, studying and criticising his own ones - which are treated almost as hypotheses awaiting refutation. In the process, his work has lost the manifesto and stridency of the early buildings to become more fluid, restrained and subtle. From 1965 to 1970, he taught at the Academy of Architecture in Amsterdam. In 1970 he became a professor at the Technical University in Delft.
This is the first half this lecture only. The video of the second half is not available.
Herman Hertzberger explains his approach of deploying ordinary rather than extraordinary elements as a device for giving the user responsibility to finish the design. He speaks of the importance of accommodating the user instead of impressing them with a specific purpose determined by the architect. To this end, he gives examples of his open-ended projects including a Montessori school and a development of experimental houses, both in Delft. Hertzberger goes on to present a home for the elderly in Amsterdam as an example of organizing building elements with specific knowledge of the psychological associations that the users will project on the results. He also shows how the placement and articulation of columns in his Utrecht Concert Hall project refer to Le Corbusier's Dom-ino house concept and Chomsky's writings on Structuralism.
Herman Hertzberger lectures on projects spanning from the early 1970s through 2000, including the Centraal Beheer offices and the Chassé Theatre. He described the main focus of his work as communal and social space. Hertzberger works to achieve these through multiplying of sight lines in order to see as many people as possible, through the creation of more stairs than necessary for circulation in order to create informal gathering spaces, and by never closing space off in corridors.