Dom Hans van der Laan, A House For The Mind

Caroline Voet

This publication recieved the DAM Architecture Book of the Year Award 2018.

This manual is an introduction to Dom Hans van der Laan’s design methodology, as he applied it to Roosenberg Abbey. Original drawings are combined with explanatory diagrams, complemented by nine original letters from the architect to the Sisters as well as a series of photographs by Friederike von Rauch, to offer an in-depth reading of this building on different levels.

In 1977, the Benedictine monk and architect Dom Hans van der Laan (1904-1991) published his manifesto Architectonic Space, Fifteen Lessons on the Disposition of the Human Habitat. Seeking out to capture the essence of spatial experience as a foundation for architecture, he developed a design methodology through his own proportional system of the ‘Plastic Number’. Around that same period, Dom van der Laan built Roosenberg Abbey in Waasmunster for the Marian Sisters of St.-Francis. And while his theories remain fairly abstract, this building demonstrates the concrete use of proportion, materiality and light in relation to perception and movement in space. Moreover, this building is designed to guide the inhabitant into contemplation, intensity and stillness.

Autonomous Architecture in Flanders. The Early Works of Marie-José Van Hee, Christian Kieckens, Marc Dubois, Paul Robbrecht and Hilde Daem

Caroline Voet, Sofie De Caigny, Lara Schrijver and Katrien Vandermarliere (eds.)

Five well-known architects who studied together in Ghent, Marie-José Van Hee, Christian Kieckens, Marc Dubois, Paul Robbrecht and Hilde Daem, can be considered as leading protagonists of their generation. From their education at Sint-Lucas Institute and the Academy of Fine Arts to the present day, their professional careers and legacy have been of great importance to the development of Flemish architecture. In their early works and writings, they established a distinct architectural language, rooted in historical knowledge and with a reflection to art and craftsmanship. Architecture was singled out as a spatial phenomenon with an autonomous logic grounded in inhabitation and experience. This generation represents a significant turn towards architectural autonomy in Flanders which resonated with similar international developments in the late 1970s. Moreover they played a decisive role in the emancipation and professionalization of the architectural culture in Flanders.

The publication was peer reviewed and received the GPRC label. But besides its academic value, new ways were sought to present the design process. THE THINKING HAND is a series of sketch mappings, filmed by the Fragile students (Faculty of Architecture, KU Leuven, Campus Sint-Lucas Gent), who also assisted in developing time lines.

Dom Hans van der Laan, Tomelilla. A theory of architecture and its practical implementation.

Caroline Voet

The book is an elaborate design manual, linking Dom van der Laan’s more abstract philosophical concepts from his manifesto Architectonic Space (1977) to the concrete design process of his last project, the Jesu Moder Marias Kloster (1991) in Tomelilla, Sweden.

‘This book, which is both a thorough study of van der Laan’s contribution to architectural thought and a close analysis of its application in one particular project, is a necessary one: it provides the reader with a key to the writings and the building, shedding light on the close relationship between the two and rendering both, theory and practice, accessible. The authors’ endeavour is as rare as their object is unique: taking us, as readers, deep into the work of the architect, and explaining it with love of detail and an economy of words that suits their subject.’

Christoph Grafe, fragment of foreword

Full list of academic publications by Caroline Voet

Link below

Dom Hans Van Der Laan drawing the Scottisch tartan

Caroline Voet

On 23 November 1968 the Dutch architect and Benedictine monk Dom Hans van der Laan unfolded an eighteenth-century piece of fabric, the Douglas tartan, in order to explain the mechanisms of space to his students.’ Over on Caroline Voet explores the limitless grids of the architect-turned-Benedictine monk Dom Hans van der Laan, whose thinking about space and architecture helped form the Bossche School. After dropping out of architecture school in Delft, van der Laan ‘entered the order in 1927, and was made responsible for the monastery’s vestment workshop,’ writes Voet. ‘As he acquainted himself with the needle, van der Laan began to draw sewing patterns based on ancient Greek tunics. In search of the original concept of St Thomas’ habitus, he was aiming to define a certain honest primitiveness and austerity. ‘Habitus’ – or habit – translates as ‘to wear’, but also “to have”. Both relate to being. As van der Laan observed, “We are as we are dressed.” These early sartorial studies also inform van der Laan’s architectural approach, through which he took “habitus” as the central analogy of the elemental house.

A+U 583 19:04 Coussee & Goris

Klaas Goris

This issue of a+u features the work of Belgian architects Coussée & Goris, based in the city Ghent.  Ralph Coussée and Klaas Goris emphasise in their oeuvre the importance of the surrounding landscape, inspiration drawn from contemporary artisits and the added value of cooperation with such architecture firms as RCR Arquitectes, Gafpa and Raamwerk.
They aim for simplicity of idiom and high constructional precision. The hand of the maker always remains visible. Establishing themselves between the human and the material is essential to the success of their projects.

Exposed projects: Cortex House, Youth and Recreation Domain in Sint-Jan-in-Eremo, Crematorium Hofheide, Transfo Zwevegem, Kanaal, De Krook, Zwin, Palisade House, Zeno X Gallery, Lindenlei, Ligy and Katrien, The Edge, Van Gendthallen, Portus, Dongon, Barn.