Detalle Publicación

Ex Africa Aliquid Novum [There is something new coming from Africa]: Herman Haan and Aldo van Eyck's Journeys in a Pseudo-Ethnographic Vein

ISSN: 2045-5895
Volumen: 11
Número: 2
Páginas: 381 - 407
Fecha de publicación: 2022
To the field of professional architecture in Europe in the aftermath of World War II, the deserts of Western Africa were a margin that was viewed as an exterior to the modern metropolis and as a realm of escapism. However, to the ethnographic practices that had developed since the late 1800s, the notion of a desert hinterland supposed a primordial land, reflected in forms of habitation. For architects Herman Haan (1914-96) and Aldo van Eyck (1918-99), the desert was a tense geography that moved between being outside and at home. Revisiting the diaries from Haan and van Eyck's journeys and their mediation of ethnographic methodologies alongside their engagement with modernist design, this article proposes that Haan's impressions connect two seemingly opposite contexts: the Dogon lands on the Niger River, and Rotterdam. I argue that, in the architectural and ethnographic amateurism of Haan, the modernist metropolis and its exteriors were not delimited, distinct realms, but were rather engaged in a fluctuating relationship reflective of the contemporary fascination with post-Eurocentric landscapes in the discipline of architecture. I assert that this process of immersion was in fact a process of internalization of spatial experience.