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More permanent than snow

The failure of post-war architecture to create urban communities haunts Europe

By Ken Worpole   April 2001

During the “hunger winter” of 1944 in Amsterdam, over 20,000 people died of starvation. Many of the city’s trees were cut down, and the interiors of abandoned buildings broken up for fuel. When peace came this most beautiful and urbane of cities was in urgent need of large-scale reconstruction. In the years following the end of hostilities in Europe, modern architecture had an unprecedented opportunity to demonstrate a socially minded, urban flair. The consensus today is that in most places it failed. The young Dutch architect Aldo van Eyck was one of the earliest critics of the mechanistic approach taken…

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