Het Rijksmuseum der architectuur
: traditie en vernieuwing in museumarchitectuur

Student thesis: Master


Prior to this research, a study on complexity and contradiction in architecture has taken place; on the basis of the theory of Robert Venturi, laid down in his book "Complexity and Contradiction", a theoretical framework has been composed. A variety of analyzes have been linked to this framework in order to uncover complexities in buildings; the different complexities in buildings can be compared and linked. Following this study, three studies were designed, two of the three studies serve as handles for the third study. The third study arose from the ideal to build a didactic temple for architecture, the pedestal that the mother of the arts deserves. The immediate reason for this desire is the fusion of the Dutch Architecture Institute with other sector institutes of fashion, design and e-culture. The Dutch Architecture Institute has the largest architecture archive in the world, a collection that few people know the existence of. A more indirect but definitely present reason is the current financial crisis in the field. Clients and consultants gain more and more control over the design, commercial and sustainable principles are the highest priority, and the architect is not seen as the master of the act of building. The added value of architecture is not recognized. Of all times, now, while the government is trying to degrade architecture even further by denying the value of the Dutch Architecture Institute, is the time to try and imagine this ideal. The time to acknowledge the value of architecture and time to honor the rich architectural history of this country. Instead of merging the Dutch Architecture Institute, the government should establish a National Museum of Architecture. The first study elaborates on the part of the theory of Complexity and Contradiction which addresses the creation of 'order' in a design. According to the theoretical framework, there are two ways to incorporate complexities into your design; either starting your design with an 'exaggerated' order that's strong enough to dominate so that complexities can be included without breaking the order, or by starting with a number of separate parts and then create unity by exaggerating the similarities or by adding a dominant element. Within the part of the theory that focuses on creating an exagggerated order, three concepts play an important role: 'monumental order', 'conventional elements' and 'vestigial elements'. These terms have two elements in common; they rely on an "order" in the form of symmetry, structure, repetition, rhythm, and they rely on a degree of "convention" or " recognition". The 'vestigial element' is a conventional element with a specific reference to tradition and the past. Although the word archetype, or historical prototype, isn't mentioned once in Complexity and Contradiction, an archetypal structure includes all three terms, 'monumental order', 'conventional elements' and 'vestigial elements'. Therefore, there are many examples mentioned in Complexity and Contradiction where an archetypal basis is used to create a basic order for a design, however, this is not appointed in this way. A historical prototype of the museum as the basis for the National Museum of Architecture is desirable for several reasons. This design is supposed to be a contemporary temple, a building with a dominant and didactic appearance that conveys a strong relationship with the architectural history that it carries. The second study focused on the development of the archetype museum. The museum has known many forms and shapes over time and thus many archetypes. From the museum as an educational and ceremonial stage for tradition and history to the museum as a supermarket for art, where entertainment and commerce are the highest priority. Several archetypes have been defined and the relationships between these archetypes have been investigated, families have been defined and developments have been analyzed. Subsequently the current museum architecture has been analysed and the latest development towards the 'interactive museum' has been reviewed. Entertainment is increasingly seen as the ultimate goal of the museum, the educational foundation that the museum once had ever seems to be fading. The manifesto to promote the education of architecture to the public can also be extended to a manifesto to promote education in museum architecture. The same commercialization and the ensuing need to respond to what "the poeple want" instead of offering "what the people must learn", formed the basis of the merging of the Dutch Architecture Institute with other sector institutions. With the Altes Museum of Schinkel as the basis of the monumental museum a design which is not only a monumental temple architecture is built, but it also responds to the contemporary era, its location and its complex program. This complex relationship between the archetype and its reinterpretation was addressed with the theory of the preliminary investigation of Complexity and Contradiction in mind. The theoretical framework was used to uncover and explain these complexities and their associated architectural translation. Within the monumental archetypical structure, solutions were sought for pragmatic issues such as loading / unloading in relation to the workshops, the cloakroom and ticket sales, and the demand for a bookstore and café in the contemporary museum. However, these complexities were always solved in balance with the monumental order and principles. The integration of this reality-sense in the design doesn't affect the manifesto, the ideal image is translated to a real alternative to the current Dutch Architecture Institute, and provokes thought relating the current developments in museum architecture.
Date of Award31 May 2013
Original languageDutch
SupervisorBernard J.F. Colenbrander (Supervisor 1), J.J.P.M. van Hoof (Supervisor 2) & Ole Bouman (External coach)

Cite this