The inevitable computerisation of bridge control in Amsterdam means that the current buildings that house analogue operations will soon become redundant. The question is, what future is there for the houses themselves? Demolition, decay or reuse? To explore these questions, space&matter initiated the exhibition SWEETS: overview, insights, outlook.
Reconstructions of the twenty-seven bridge houses formed the centrepiece of the exhibition. Taken together, these bridge houses offer a romantic and fascinating narrative of city’s urban history, a history that is deeply connected to its waterways: from the early 20th century, when Amsterdam’s Public Works Department decided to weave a citywide aesthetic in street furniture and bridge works, all the way to the current brutalist and high-tech bridge-house designs of the post-war period.
Along with a photographic portrait, the visitor could read about the rich stories behind the buildings in the SWEETS guidebook. Packed with facts, infographics, photographs and essays about all twenty-seven of these architectural gems. The minimal look of the models, stripped down to the building’s essence, made comparing easy and accessible.
Associated “Get Yourself an Attitude” workshops also looked to the future. Conducted in collaboration with Beata Labuhn, these workshops formed an important part of the exhibition. On the basis of a series of debates and workshops with students (from Aachen, La Paz, Madrid and Delft) and professionals, space&matter defined a toolbox/vocabulary for transformation strategies, the results of which were displayed as part of the growing exhibition. Meanwhile, space&matter provided opportunities to tour the canals – by bicycle, boat or on foot – in a unique route which took them past all of the city’s bridge control buildings.
The exhibition drew a lot of international attention, with more than 5000 visitors coming to get a taste of the delightful SWEETS.