Structural Contingencies Studio

MA2 GHENT 2021-2022
Thor Van Damme
Thor Van Damme

Archaic Modernisms

During this Meesterproef, we will wander off to Sweden in every possible manner, in order to find tools to create civic conditions in the city of Namur. Part of our wanderings will take form as a November study trip through Sweden to analyse the work of Lewerentz’ buildings and the ARKDES exhibition.*

Sweden, as our mental space, will offer tools to rethink the relation between landscape and the city by engaging with history/memory in a creative way. Architect Sigurd Lewerentz hybridised between the archaic and the modern, creating buildings that intensely operate on all scales, from the detail and material, to the relation between inside and outside and their position in the landscape. As with previous traces found in the Porto School (Meesterproef 2021), we map these architectural intricacies, sensitive materiality and the human scale, analysing the design as an autonomous archaeology that engages with history.

To experiment with this question, we will introduce the Swedish ideas and sensibilities to Namur: the historic city centre and its landscape surroundings of deep river gorges. Vibrant and full of layers and infrastructural frictions, this city offers a case study through which we will explore the idea of the endless city as a landscape, an urbanity of nature, interiors and rooms. As the work of Lewerentz is layered in its classical references over time, we will start from the XIVth landscape paintings by Herri Met De Bles. Mimetic hybrids in themselves, the tableaus are collages of landscapes and urbanities with influences from Bles’ study trip to Italy. Nevertheless, it is the depiction of the rocky landscape, based on the river gorges in his birth city Namur, which is the most ground-breaking.

How can these cross-references from Lewerentz to Bles offer mimetic tools to crack Namur’s genetic code and introduce a new building and landscape qualities in order to humanise its city centre? How can we understand its past as a new layer for future developments? How do we rewrite its architectonic language in order to address the challenges society poses today? What are your co-ordinates as a designing architect?

A ruin, a city and a landscape.

The studio outcome will be an architectural strategy and a worked-out proposal for a building that acts as a catalyst resuming its role as a public space in the city.

As part of the Structural Contingencies program, this studio is linked to the research on Pioneering Practices and Material Culture, analysing work of for example Dom Hans van der Laan and Alfons Hoppenbrouwers. As a preparation for the design, this studio will focus on Pioneering Buildings in Sweden by architect Sigurd Lewerentz.


Caroline Voet
Tom Thys

Sophie Brewaeys
Joris Capiau
Silke Jacobs
Milenca Persoons Barbe
Helena t’Kint
Thor Van Damme
Ian Verbiest
Bowen Zhang