European architectures from Flanders_

De nombreux projets architecturaux réalisés en Flandres bénéficient d’une reconnaissance internationale. Ils témoignent de l’emergence d’une culture du design et de la recherche pleine de vitalité.

Common ground refounded – European architectures from Flanders

In recent years the architecture of Flanders, the northern Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, has undergone a remarkable evolution. Supported by a generous architectural policy of the region’s government, architects have found a favourable environment for the artistic development of their work. Projects such as the Concertgebouw in Bruges, the Museum M in Leuven or the C-Mine in Genk, but also the experimental projects for theatre and dance groups in Antwerp and Ghent illustrate the extraordinary cultural élan that is the outcome of an enlightened architectural policy.

At a regional scale, the Flemish territory looks like a sequence of urban spaces with a relatively high quality, related to one another by a suburban pattern. The fundamental improvement of the territory during the last decades has focused on the re-use and redesign of obsolete infrastructure (generally located in urban environments) such as a former coalmine, objects of industrial heritage and urban renewal projects. The water mill in Aarschot, by noAarchitecten, the C-mine in Genk, by 51N4E, and the shopping centre ‘K in Kortrijk’ by Robbrecht & Daem Architecten are a few of those examples of revitalisation.

A more recent preoccupation at a regional scale is to reflect on the archetypal suburban conditions. The architect’s action is, in this case, limited to the private allotment but tries to introduce a new relation between the private house and the territory by reinterpreting the plot. The Villa in Buggenhout, by Office Kersten Geers David Van Severen, and Malpertuus in Destelbergen, by architecten de vylder vinck taillieu are examples of this.

Beyond the individual signature and fascinations, Flemish architects seem to find themselves in an approach that could be described as an un-dogmatic contextualism. The context of this landscape of irresolvable complexities and indefinite compromises – a small-scale version of the entire continent – provides a variety of disparate architectural idioms that seem to have a liberating effect. To judge by recent projects from Flanders, architecture is not limited to becoming a problem-solving activity and, while the context is always there and important, extrapolating from the existing is not an option for the designer if there is a multitude of references. This observation, and the radically unpredictable buildings that reflect these conditions, are the Flemish contributions to European architectural culture.

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La conférence (en langue anglaise) se déroulera dans la Salle de Conférence de la Fondation de l’Architecture et de l’Ingénierie, au 1 rue de l’Aciérie, L-1112 Luxembourg. L’entrée est libre.
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