Structural Contingencies Studio

MA2 GHENT 2022-2023
Jinru Wu_Xiangning Chen

Archaic Modernisms

During this Meesterproef, we will wander off to Portugal in every possible manner, in order to find tools to create civic conditions in the city of Namur. Portugal, 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. The connection with landscape, perspective and time in the work of Fernando Tavora and Alvaro Siza serves our agenda of reconnecting to the regional context, as it had formulated at the time a fundamental critique against post war functionalism and any international formalism. In search for architectural poetics, sensitive materiality and the human scale, the buildings of this generation grow from the design of an autonomous archaeology that engages with history.

To experiment with this question, we will introduce the Portugese 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. 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 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 Portugal by Fernando Tavora and Alvaro Siza. You are invited to join the reading club.

Caroline Voet
Tom Thys

Simon Vynckier
Mathieu Voet
Jinru Wu
Mona Watty
Sieg Muermans
Xiangning Chen
Robbert Van der Borght
Astrid Leys
Avnora Zeqiri
Emma Verhagen