Mats Berglund (Stockholm University)
Urban Power in the Dutch Empire: Amsterdam's Role In Forging the North/South Divide
Joshua Leon (Iona College)
Dutch Empire, World Cities, North-South Divide
Identified by Immanuel Wallerstein as the first true hegemon, the Dutch Empire dominated maritime commerce in the seventeenth century. Amsterdam emerged as the world’s alpha city, the site of the first true global multinational corporations. In tandem with corporate activities including the founding of New York City, Cape Town, and Jakarta, Amsterdam established the first modern stock market. It developed a complex economy that supported 2,000 types of jobs. It also solidified the North-South power imbalance. European powers extracted the labor and raw materials of far-flung colonies, refining them at higher value. The under-populated Dutch Empire relied on forced migration and slave labor to produce valuable goods such as sugar, tobacco, and spices. These foreign markets reshaped Amsterdam’s built environment and demographics beyond all recognition. New opportunities in the shipping industry—the source of Amsterdam’s seaborne dominance—powered a quadrupling of the city’s population. Refineries of imported materials such as sugar dotted the landscapes of Holland’s cities. A prototypical world system emerged. This essay traces the emergence of a city network in the Low Countries that prefigured its independence from Spain, and the construction of its own imperial network. It explores the human trafficking that the East and West India companies relied on to overcome deficits in manpower. The Dutch city network expanded globally, establishing critical nodes in West Africa, the Americas, the Caribbean, and Asia to manage the flow of resources and labor. This was an urban military-industrial complex, a city network built for ceaseless warfare. Life in Dutch cities was harsh despite the fact that this was the richest, most urbanized region of Europe. Amsterdam’s place at the top of the world city hierarchy led to rising inequality, prefiguring modern urban “command centers.” The city became a microcosm of the core-periphery network constructed by a power elite that ran both the town councils and the Dutch trading companies. Centering on the famed inner canal network, planners reimagined the city along class lines. The cities created a regional market for agriculture, commercializing and physically reshaping the hinterlands.
Santiago de Compostela, "the Architecture of the City": Aldo Rossi’s Influence in Galicia
Santiago Rodríguez-Caramés (Universidade de Santiago de Compostela)
Aldo Rossi, Tendenza, Galician Architecture
In the 60s, Rossi published The Architecture of the City (1966), an essay that earned him a central position in the architecture scene emerged from the crisis of modernity. This Italian academic effervescence was particularly influential on the Catalan school –Barcelona, along with Madrid, became the main creative spot in late Francoist Spain. As many Galician architects (César Portela, Pascuala Campos, Iago Bonet, Antonio Armesto…) pursued their studies in Barcelona, a connection between Galicia and Aldo Rossi rapidly developed and became established thanks to relevant figures of the Barcelona school, such as Salvador Tarragó.
In the early 70s, the peripheral position of Galician architecture scene changed due to three main factors: the presence of veteran architects, the emergence of a new generation of young architects, and the creation in 1973 of a school of architecture and a professional association of architects. The contributions of Italian and Catalan architects were essential for the consolidation of this process. The recently created professional association was introduced to the public during the 3rd Meeting of Professional Associations of Architects for the Management of Historical Archives (Santiago, 1973), which brought together architects from all over Spain and featured Rossi as an expert in historical cities and how they had adapted to the contemporary era. They concluded it was necessary to take action to preserve Spanish historical cities, as they had been damaged by a period of excessive development in the second half of the Francoist dictatorship. Then came the 1st Seminar on Architecture (Compostela, 1976), organized by Tarragó, Rossi, and Portela. World-renowned architects such as Aymonimo, Siza, and Kleihues collaborated with the Galician architects that were inspired by them in their search for new methodologies and approaches to handle the vast historical and artistic heritage of Compostela –one of the influences behind the emergence of a rossian school in Spain (to which adhered many Galician architects), a connection evidenced in 1977’s exhibition Aldo Rossi + 21 Spanish Architects.
These events, referred in Galician history as the foundations of the architecture that flourished in Galicia in the late 20th century, are essential for understanding the emergence of a contemporary sensitivity towards the historical heritage of monumental complexes, as is visible in Santiago’s case. In the late 80s, the city experienced a deep renovation involving the protection and humanization of the historical spaces and the installation of new cultural, administrative, and sports-related infrastructures in strategic locations. This was encouraged by the symbolic power of Santiago, which had become Galicia’s capital in 1982 with the approval of Galicia’s Autonomy Statute, and by the rise of tourism encouraged by pilgrimages and the Xacobeo. Santiago became a framework for innovative architectural expressions, featured in international journals such as Casabella.
Rossi kept his exchanges with Galicia until his death. The texts he devoted to Galicia, the affectionate references to Santiago in his Scientific Autobiography (1981), and the project for Museo do Mar (Vigo, 1992-2002) designed with Portela are proof of Galicia’s connection with one of the greatest contemporary architects.