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Home Projects Beyond Utopia

After WWII a new city center emerged from the ashes of the bombed-out center of the Dutch city Rotterdam. The ‘Lijnbaanhoven’ were a prominent part therein. These luxury flats with city gardens belonged to Rotterdam’s tallest buildings and were admired as an example of 'the new housing'.

The utopian idea behind the concept of living was largely rooted in the ideas of Le Corbusier. The leading Swiss/French architect approached the appartment building as a machine for living; an ideal, practical form of cohabitation that would promote social structures and the welfare of residents.

As a resident of one of these flats I noticed that this utopian idea didn't withstand the test of time. The first generation of residents is gradually replaced by a new guard. The solidarity from the period right after WW II has given way to individualism. Social structures are crumbling and people are more and more condemned to their own housing unit.

In an attempt to restore the utopia, I tried to ‘tear down’ the thin walls between me and my fellow occupants by being part of their lives for a short while. I photographed these scenes by using the self-timer.

The framing and artificial lightning are inspired by conventional photography styles which promote the 'ideal life': interior and lifestyle photography. The combination of this aproach with everyday situations in a non-styled setting produces a friction which supports the utopian nature of the images. By consistent use of an identical framework the images have a repetitive nature. Using these ‘building stones’ I constructed my own utopian building.

JOOST VAN DER VLEUTEN