Pioneering Practices Meesterproef I Alfons Hoppenbrouwers |
2021 - 2022
The ‘meesterproef’ is part of the Pioneering Practices Research Project, which analyses the designs of several buildings in Flanders from the 1960s and 1970s. They range from experimental housing and large-scale buildings such as schools, ecclesiastic and cultural complexes to leisure centers and city halls. This research aims to generate more knowledge on these experimental buildings, by combining design and practice-based expertise with theoretical research. Architects as Leon Stynen, Alfons Hoppenbrouwers, Jos Van Driessche, Paul Felix, Bob Van Reeth and Lode Wouters were designers/ builders as well as teachers, passing on their ideologies, skills and knowledge through their practices and teaching studios. The research project is led by Caroline Voet. Laura Lievevrouw started the first PhD within the project in 2020.
Since this academic year, the Faculty of Architecture of KU Leuven Campuses Ghent and Brussel initiated a new type of dissertation project, which has a more theoretical approach than the otherwise practice-based studios with an output towards a design proposal with mainly drawings and models. This dissertation project is a hybrid experiment between these two, where a more reflective paper is superimposed with analytical and creative drawings. The design proposal is as a smaller appendix, enabling a second projective application of the methodologies and techniques abstracted from the analysis.
After some preliminary research, in February 2021, Riet Coosemans embarked on the research journey put forward by this studio proposal. The student selected the ‘Zonnewoning’ by Alfons Hoppenbrouwers to thoroughly engage with. Observations and mappings of the buildings are combined with archival research of drawings and writings, as well as interviews. The aim was to enter the mental space of the architect and his design process. What were his/her motivations and dreams, his/her (failed) endeavors and influences, and what skills did he/her employ to engage with space and structure, with the human scale and the urban landscape? The architectural drawing is seen as a practice embedded within the design process, which influences and shapes the architectural production. With this focus on the productiveness of the drawing, the student set forth to detect design tools and make new drawings, describing the genealogy and DNA of the building. This is combined with writings that engage with the history and context of the building, as well as develop a personal lens and methodology as a designing architect. The student set forth to analyze a building not only through the context, historiography or formal descriptions, but through a deep reading that demanded them to sharpen their creative skills and empathic attitude as designers.
Parallel to the analysis, the student tested some of the readings and methodologies generated through their research in a vacant, intermediate scale office structure of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Is it possible to envision an architectural intervention that might open this closed structure to the city? If you start by engaging with the mental space of the designing architect, how do you create parallel worlds that enter into dialogue, or maybe even escape it?