In May the wide-ranging oeuvre of the French-Hungarian
architect Yona Friedman (1923) will go on exhibition in the Balcony
Room of the NAI. Drawings, models and objects will be on display
in a distinctively colourful setting designed for his work. A
highly striking element in the exhibition will be a fall-scale
reconstruction of his dining room. The complete interior has
been specially transported from Paris for the occasion. By bringing
visitors into direct contact with the architect's own living
space, the exhibition offers an exclusive glimpse of Friedman's
universe and his typically imaginative views of the world. This
'intimate' exhibition concept not only provides factual information
but also offers deeper insight into, and appreciation of, the
thinking of Yona Friedman.
Friedman grew up in Budapest and emigrated to Israel immediately
after the war. There he completed his studies and formulated
his first ideas about flexible housing construction. He participated
in the tenth Congrès Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne
(CIAM, 1956) in Dubrovnik, where he presented his manifesto L
Architecture Mobile. In the following years he elaborated this
manifesto in what he called La Ville Spatiale (the spatial city).
He projected these structures over imaginary locations and over
cities like Paris, Monaco, Venice, London and New York.
There is an obvious affinity between his work and the post-war
tradition that focused on lightweight structures in an urban
context - with designers such as the already mentioned Otto as
well as Richard Buckminster Fuller, John Habraken, and the artist
Constant Nieuwenhuis. This affinity mainly concerns the external
characteristics of Friedman's work and not the essential underlying
motives that led Friedman to such forms, motives based on the
individual's exercise of free choice.
Friedman's field of work encompassed, in addition to architecture
and urban design, the realms of sociology, economics, mathematics,
philosophy, planning and art; and for many years he has been
involved in the issue of housing in the Third World.
Friedman never actively allied himself to prominent groups
or movements within the world of architecture or urban planning,
but through his teaching activities and publications (over 500
articles and several books), his body of ideas has nevertheless
become widely diffused within various spheres of society.