Ruin, by Van Eyck

The Aldo van Eyck pavilion of 1967 that has been rebuild in the Kröller Müller Museum as I mentioned earlier, seems at a first sight to escape any representation. I has no facades in the traditional sense. The most iconic of the building is its plan with its parallel lines that are broken by segments of circles. The plan is used in the media to present the building to the public.

But there is also another iconicity about the building. A less apparent one. It is the one of an excavation site, of a ruin. With a thin transparant roof to keep dust and rain from spoiling the archeological work.

This iconography becomes visible when we compare a photo of one of the sides of the pavilion with for example the ruin of the Mercati di Traiano in Rome. That gigantic building in the old center of Rome was one of the first shopping malls. It had multiple levels of stores at inner streets etcetera. The ruins are now decorated by temporal exhibitions of modern art.

This is not a coincidence. Aldo van Eyck did a lot of research into primitive settlements, especially in Afrika, to find the fundaments of architecture. This pavilion does not look like those settlements, instead it looks like the ruin-version of those settlements. The big difference is that this pavilion has no, or at least a minimal roof.

Furthermore the mono-materiality makes the building look like an eroded or excavated ruin that is a vague echo of what the building once looked like.

The art in the pavilion seem to refer to the found objects in especially Egypt, Greece and Italy. The first museums displaced those ancient objects in a new kind of building; the museum. Aldo van Eyck places these objects back in the place that they were found; the ruin.

When you walk through the pavilion you feel like an archeologist that is exploring this ruin for cultural artifacts. Like an Indiana Jones that could find behind every corner a new surprise. The narrow spaces remind you of the small scale of domestic housing in the ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. The combination of rectangular and circular forms is also very apparent in especially the ancient Roman architecture, such as the palaces of Nero and Augustus, the Pantheon, and the Collosseum.

The Aldo van Eyck pavilion does not exhibit sculpture from ancient times, but it does exhibit echo’s of that culture. All sculptures are representate the human figure, in an all more or less 1:1 scale. The sculpture is also placed not in front of the wall on a piece of furniture, but at the wall. It has thereby not the presentation of a museum, but of a ruin.

Aldo van Eyck Pavilion, Kroller Muller Museum 

Mercati di Traiani

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