In sociology, anthropology and linguistics, structuralism is the methodology that elements of human culture must be understood in terms of their relationship to a larger, overarching system or structure. It works to uncover the structures that underlie all the things that humans do, think, perceive, and feel. Alternatively, as summarized by philosopher Simon Blackburn, structuralism is "the belief that phenomena of human life are not intelligible except through their interrelations. These relations constitute a structure, and behind local variations in the surface phenomena there are constant laws of abstract culture".
Dutch structuralism is one of the most important architectonic positions in Europe after the Second World War. At the end of the 1950s, the criticism of the functionalism and rationalism of postwar architecture reaches its climax and is clearly formulated at the last CIAM Congress - organised by the splinter group Team Ten - in Otterlo (NL) in 1959. Here Aldo van Eyck presents his project of a municipal orphanage in Amsterdam, which gains worldwide attention and becomes an icon of a new architectural trend; this will first be subsumed years later, despite different conceptual approaches, under the term "structuralism".
In the 1960s and 1970s there is an almost worldwide spread of structuralism - the crucial differences are less recognizable in the shape of the building than in the fundamental positions of its builder: the humanistic/antropological orientation of Aldo van Eyck, the technological focus of Eckhard Schulze-Fielitz or the specially forward-looking philosophy of metabolism in Japan.
The basic attitude of structuralism assumes an expandable whole - the form dissolves itself from the function and allows flexibility, the overlapping of usage and the participation of the users. The grid becomes the organizing principle.In the late 1970s structuralism loses its role as a leading ideology in architecture and urban planning. The postmodern era has began.
*I am grateful for useful information from exhibition "Am Ende: Architektur. Zeitreisen 1959 – 2019" in Architekturzentrum Wien