Whether it’s a bisected war bunker, an office space that forbids sitting down or a hulking yet, ultimately purposeless machine of war, the chances are that if you’ve seen a project by RAAAF, it provoked some questions. But, while their work may appear merely idiosyncratic, it is informed by a deep understanding and questioning of culture.
A monstrous arthropod made out of steel with two spindly legs stares vacuously out of its white glassy eyes. Inside the sculpture – Secret Operation 610 – as they call the steel monster, RAAAF team gathers around a table, the only object in the otherwise empty shelter. Philosophers, artists, scientists and architects have come together to create new thinking models. By combining their multiple professions, they aspire to view the world differently, veering away from the status quo. Indeed, a new perspective opens up as one is escorted into the entrails of the creature. The five-sided, all-white capsule houses several pullout seats around a meeting table, but, also diagonal backrests next to a panorama window looking out to the three-kilometer-long landing strip ahead. Like a kid navigating his motorcar, the technician commands the monster to start moving at a leisurely pace. Intensely, researching the airbase’s history has led them to examine the F-15 strike fighters that were based at Soesterberg.
The visual viciousness of the fighters inspired them to build an object equally daunting, but, with its destructive energy transformed into progressive force. The object now functions as a think tank for scientists and artists from around the world, inviting them to brainstorm in an environment entirely detached from the boundaries of rationality. Additionally, researchers from the Technical University of Delft can now use this site as an experimental playground to test sustainable flying technologies. Without concealing its historical richness and powerful aesthetics, RAAAF drew on the symbolic ferocity embodied in the airbase. For RAAAF, this symbolic aspect is only one part of their work’s complex context.