Willem Jan Neutelings and Michiel Riedijk
In the past years Willem-Jan Neutelings and Michiel Riedijk, partners in Neutelings Riedijk Architects in Rotterdam, have become the leading architecture intellectuals in the Netherlands. The surge came on all flanks: An oeuvre with consistent innovation, coupled to a series of high-profile projects all located in the Netherlands. Then there is the book ‘At Work’. And the final strike was a number of polemic lectures that were everywhere applauded. At the ‘Architectuur 2.0’ conference last October a thousand Dutch architects made an (almost standing) ovation to Mr. Neutelings. The advocated message? You just read it: after the end of theory, after all emergent blobs have popped, the tradition of the architectural practice is back.
Instead of hoping for a revolution that will never come, the agenda has refocused on a cultural conservatism. But, “our call for tradition is not about style, it’s about methodology”, Mr. Neutelings assures me.
Highly significant is the reoccuring pointing by Mr. Neutelings to the nineteenth century, not by coincidence the moment just before Modernism interupted that tradition. It was also the moment representation blossemed like never before in the neo-styles. When studying ornament and iconography the nineteenth century is the place to be, even though it looks like a paradox: Look back to move forward.