Going Dutch

Rotterdam-based firm BAR brings a humanist approach to Modern architecture

Can architecture be useless? The question is only half-rhetorical when posed by BAR, the Rotterdam-based architecture firm of Klaas van der Molen and Joost Glissenaar. The pair has repeatedly explored the purpose of architecture, and in particular the interaction between the building and its user. Look at its Bridgehouse for the southern Dutch town of Middelburg: useless! Only six times a year does anyone step inside to open the bridge; the rest of the time it is merely a transformer station. “We call it a folly in the water,” says Glissenaar. But what could have been a boring technical facility has been designed by BAR as a piece of urban sculpture, making it “useful” in a new way to the surrounding city.

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