Optimistic designs for new societies (1945-1985)
After World War II, there was an urge for optimistic designs. After a long dark period of economic decline and misery, from the stock exchange crash of 1929 to 1945, society needed to be rebuilt and, above all, improved. Architects, urban planners and landscape architects enjoyed playing a major role in this. They wholesaled in optimistic designs that bear witness to a great belief in makeable societies, whether plans for new housing estates in Capelle aan den IJssel, futuristic polyester architecture or university campuses in Twente, Turkey, Mexico and Africa are concerned. These often happy and not infrequently outrageous designs are the focus of this seminar on the years 1945-1985: Absolutely fabulous!
Date: Thursday 25 January 2024
Time: 13.30 – 18.00
Place: Berlage Halls, TU Delft, Faculty of Architecture, Julianalaan 134
/// The talk will be given in English. Participation is free, but please register in advance
The seminar will be held in TU Delft's Berlage Halls. Interested parties can also listen and discuss online, please email Judith Fraune (
Three recent publications that address this subject will be presented: Docomomo Journal No 69 focuses on buildings for higher education in Africa. OverHolland 22 rereads the TU Twente campus in the context of national and international developments. The Post 65 theme issue of the Bulletin KNOB examines young heritage from the period 1965 to 1990 in the Netherlands.
13.30 | Doors open with coffee and tea
14.00 | Welcome and introduction by chairman Reinout Rutte, urban and architectural historian at the Chair History of Architecture and Urban Planning, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment TU Delft
14.15 | Shared heritage Africa, rediscovering masterpieces /// DOCOMOMO Journal
Wido Quist is secretary general of DOCOMOMO International and leading the section of Heritage & Architecture, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment TU Delft:
“The Shared Heritage Africa project focused on rediscovering post-war modern buildings from the 1950s-1980s in Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, and Rwanda. This period of independence from colonial rule has a great socio-political significance and influence on the educational systems and buildings. The rediscovery of this heritage focuses on exploring the values, challenges, and opportunities through the eyes of their contemporary users.”
15.00 | Campus Utopias, creative rereading /// OverHolland
Esther Gramsbergen is editor of OverHolland, researcher and lecturer at TU Delft’s Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, focusing on the role of urban institutions in more recent transformations of Dutch cities:
“OverHolland 22 focuses on the architecture and urban planning of the post-war university campus. In the 1950s and 1960s university campuses were the predominant site of important experiments in modern architecture and urban planning. But it is not only the experimental character but also the often long-term involvement of leading designers in developing the landscape and urban design and architectural elaboration of said campuses that make them an interesting object of study.“
15.45 | Break
16.15 | Theme issue Post 65 /// Bulletin KNOB
Kees Somer, until 1 January 2024 editor-in-chief of Bulletin KNOB, works as an architectural historian at the Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed (Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands):
"The most recent new heritage from the period 1965 to 1985 is extensive and diverse, and what's more, much of it is now in need of renovation, preservation, transformation or redevelopment. Every reason, therefore, to examine the architecture, urban planning and land development of this period."
17.00 | Closing and drinks