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Jan Buijs and De Volharding, The Hague, Holland

Chris Rehorst
Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians
Vol. 44, No. 2 (May, 1985), pp. 147-160
DOI: 10.2307/990026
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/990026
Page Count: 14
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Jan Buijs and De Volharding, The Hague, Holland
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Abstract

In 1927-1928 the Dutch architect Jan Buijs (1889-1961) built for the socialist co-operative "De Volharding" a stunning "glass house" in The Hague. The building was particularly remarkable for the revolutionary way in which Buijs interpreted his client's demand for a nighttime display of advertisements in the façades. At night De Volharding seemed transformed into a grand, luminous billboard. Although the building achieved an international reputation as a revolutionary example of the new architecture, its cubist-aesthetic appearance and its failure to conform to the tenets of the "New Objectivity" doomed it to oblivion during the 1930s. If we apply a view other than the polar, historical view of Dutch architecture, De Volharding and other buildings by Buijs appear to be, like the work of Dudok and Jan Wils, part of an independent trend that deserves to be studied in its own right. De Volharding was influenced by the art of De Stijl and by Russian constructivism, but the idea of incorporating light as Buijs did in this building originated with Paul Scheerbart and the expressionist circle around Bruno Taut, with whom Buijs was acquainted. The crystal world of his German friends fascinated Buijs; he was an ardent crystal collector who used sophisticated lighting to bring out the full beauty of his stones. In much the same way, De Volharding achieved its true significance by means of light. It became a beaconlight in the darkness, an example of an architecture of glass and light, and a symbol of the 1920s' optimistic expectations of the future society.

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