Youth Centre Movement

The origins of the Youth Centre Movement

The Youth Centre Movement started at the beginning of the twentieth century. Dolf Broekhuizen discusses in this article the most important theme’s at the start of the movement. These are crucial for understanding the variety of buildings in countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. It is to be said that the first ideas did not led to a new architecture: youth had strong anti-urban feelings and longed for recreation time away from parents. They felt a love for nature: the main activity was outdoor walking, camping and sitting around a camp-fire. The Boy Scouts in Great Brittain, and the Wandervogel in Germany are well known examples. The activities and architecture of the youth clubs in the city is less well known.

The origins of the architecture for the youth centre movement are varied. In the urban youth centres children gathered under one roof, experiencing recreational time and social interaction. Some of the centres were adult-initiated. These centres had the purpose to give moral or religious lessons. The ‘patronaatsgebouw’ Dutch architect Willem Maas designed for a Roman Katholic community in Utrecht is a revolutionary example (see illustration).

D. Broekhuizen, ‘Housing Youth Work: Architecture for a New Social Institution’, in: S. Pietsch, A. Muller (ed.), Walls that Teach. On the Architecture of Youth Centres, Heiningen Jap Sam Books/TU Delft  2015

Susanne Pietsch, Technical University Delft

International DAM Architectural Book Award
DAM, Deutsches Architekturmuseum,  Top Ten of Architectural Books 2015

Click here for page from Walls that Teach

Dolf Broekhuizen