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Herman Haan

Bandiagara, Mali
Herman Haan among Dogon
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Herman Haan among Dogon
Piet Vollaard Archive

Herman Haan (1914-1996) is a typical ‘architect’s architect’, admired among colleagues, but hardly known by the general public. In his case it must be noted that he was actually very well-known in the 1960’s outside the profession because of the media attention (television, newspapers, books etcetera) he received for his travels and explorations in and around the Sahara and Mali. In Mali he documented the life and artefacts of the Dogon people and he was leader/initiator of an expedition that discovered the remains of the forefathers of the Dogon: the Tellem people. In fact, he had travelled to Africa on a yearly basis (mainly in and around the Sahara) since he was a young boy, and one could say that he lived two full lives; one of an adventurer/explorer/archaeologist and another life as an architect in the Netherlands. He was a sort of an architect Indiana Jones.

As an architect he was one of the incidental participants of the Team 10 family, he brought Aldo van Eyck into contact with the Dogon people. He was also one of the Team 10 members that attended the famous CIAM meeting in Otterlo (NL) in 1959, that caused CIAM to break up definitely. His work is very much within the post-war, modernist tradition of Team 10, but with a special open brutality and a humanist twist. His work consists mainly of private houses. He was one of the first modern architects that re-used building materials in his designs.

Bandiagara, Mali
Bostjan, November 10th, 2017