Architect of Nothingness

Frank van Klingeren’s Open Architecture


  • Ecem Sarıçayır Cornell University



Architect Frank van Klingeren was most active during the 1960s and 1970s in the Netherlands. In response to the social and urban challenges of the time, Van Klingeren developed various experimental architectural forms and concepts. This essay discusses his comparatively well-known community centres De Meerpaal and Het Karregat by focusing on his commitment to unfinished architecture, open plan through wall-less designs, and his insistent attempt at creating social encounters through these spatial principles. To provide historical contextualisation of these architectural principles I engage with a theoretical framework developed by Esra Akcan which provides the first full-fledged conceptualisation of open architecture. I look at archival materials such as Van Klingeren’s poems, essays, and interviews as well as the designs of his community centres and their reception in national and international journals and newspapers. In addition to extending our knowledge of Van Klingeren’s seldom studied architectural practice, this essay aims to contribute to the concept of openness in architectural studies with the case of Van Klingeren’s spatial practice.

Author Biography

Ecem Sarıçayır, Cornell University

Ecem Sarıçayır is a PhD candidate in History of Architecture and Urban Development at Cornell University. Her dissertation analyses the history of art, architecture, and urbanism in the South Caucasus, focusing on the Russian colonial development and the various subsequent nation-state modernisation projects in the region. In parallel, she studies late modern and politically progressive Dutch architecture. Currently, she is a visiting doctoral fellow at the Freie Universität Berlin.


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Peters, Edie. ‘Karregat-proef Teruggedraaid’, De Volkskrant, April 14, 1981.

Ruyter, Martin. ‘Het Karregat is een Gevaarlijk Gebouw,’ De Volkskrant, March 9, 1974.

Ruyter, Martin. ‘Een Gebouw dat Uitnodigt tot Onrust’, De Volkskrant, January 15, 1977.

Van den Bergen, Marina and Vollaard, Piet. Hinder en Ontklontering: Architectuur en Maatschappij in het Werk van Frank van Klingeren. Rotterdam: Uitgeverij 010, 2003.

Van den Ende, Piet. ‘De Magische Doos van Van Klingeren’, Het Parool, November 7, 1967.

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Van Klingeren, Frank. Architecture, Formes + Fonctions, 16 (1971).