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A drift between chance and planning along the Left Bank of Antwerp.
This class is built up around entropy and its potential relevance in the (un)built environment. Out of my interest in the symbiosis between language and architecture arose a bilogical reverse of the natural order in search of the relevance and importance of this scientific law in architecture. Building always searches for a motive to manifest itself.
Entropy stands for the tendency to disorder of nature. Growing, increasingly expanding into chaos and lower potential but above all, the irreversibility of this process. From language to architecture. A scientific sine qua non, a rule or even a law that indisputable stands as a steady fact and a reference led to a search for the role of this term within the architectural vocabulary. From linguistic curiosity to material relevance. Maybe from the comparative thought that the concept of architecture as an entropic jumble orgiastically expands towards an unintelligible opportunity instead of an ultimate buildable aim. In this concept, the person determined with the title of architect, or even more confusing with the degree master of architecture sciences, is charged with a heavy task to reflect upon and position himself in this cultural field of the (un)built environment. Architecture stands between order and disorder, the man-made and nature, on the border and in the chaos. Also artists as Gordon Matta-Clark or Robert Smithson flirted with entropy to describe a dominant force in the process of building. Because of the urge to built extends far beyond the physical need of space and the grand lack of vision on the symbiotic play of the built and the vacant space in society, we have created this halluscinant field of brick, steel and concrete. Architecture needs to surpass the built and embed perception and understanding more then physical copying. It’s all about curating space. How far reaches the necessity of building and what is the impact on reality all together?
As physical location I chose the Left Bank of Antwerp or Linkeroever in Dutch. It’s a place with a special nature that is difficult to grasp. The place where I spent my adolescence but also the district which I still abstract and separate from the concept of ‘home’. It always has been a fascinating place for me with a sort of desolate character despite or maybe because of the purely residential interpretation. It remains an unnatural natural place, on a juvenile piece of land padded with dredged sand from the nearby river Schelde to protect it from that same source. Paradox has always been a vital part of the context here. This Left Bank remains to this day a free space for experimentation and temporary filling. An open field for he who doesn’t find the space he needs in the dense city centre. A surplus of space really, which feels like lacking any definition or structure so exists as desolate residual space. Not only in the large uncultivated plains but also along the oversized streets this entropic space extends between the high-rise. Undeveloped space is by definition not public space. The space is private but because of its scale and disuse it is claimed by the public, fences are taken down and the plain is temporarily appropriated. This creates an interesting tension between the private and public domain.
The original developing company for Linkeroever IMALSO, established to deal with this deserted unbuilt city district not even connected to Antwerp by any means, undertook an international competition in 1932 to also cope with the housing shortage in the city of Antwerp but the obviously utopian modernist outcome was never fully executed as it happens in large urbanist projects in Europe. The pioneer of modernist urbanism, Le Corbusier had made the most famous and ambitious plan composing of a rigorous grid with high-rise buildings, an airport, sport facilities etc. And most peculiarly a Mundanuem, a concept he developed together with Paul Otlet. Museums lie, he said, so this was his attempt to create a space that curated the full story. He wanted to preserve and exhibit all the knowledge in the world in one building. A courageous plan that implicated of course that a building should be able to ‘grow’ with its content. As knowledge expands more and more so does the entropic building. Structuring the chaotic as architecture should.
One can thus distinguish two problems on the left bank, which is used as a case study to research those more general and fundamental problems. Two challenges are to be researched: the open space that remains in disuse due to lack of definition with a confrontation between the private and public, and the other is the image problem this city district is facing which counteracts further development (beyond pure residential or Sundays tourism). The lack of a visual connection with Antwerp as well as an incentive to make the crossing certainly lie at the base of these issues but is only a superficial review of the core problem. The research and design will therefore focus on the tension between private and public on the one hand and on the other between the vacant/undeveloped land and the unbuilt. Whereby the Mundanuem from the unexecuted plan of Le Corbusier is a key element in the reflection on the rational intentional structuring of space and the organic development of the landscape as well as the strength of the temporary intervention which nestles itself in the premature but elementary genius loci. Reflections on the public domain are sought in the Generic City, the Transgression Model by Foucault, Reijndorp and Wim Cuyvers among others. The public domain has become mere infrastructure, the public life of confrontation and encounter has shifted to the online domain. How to design public space and for who even? What is the public need? Is there a need for open space? And does open space need to be used to be qualitative and legit? At this discussion is also the collecting and curating of knowledge added by the Mundaneum which will be deployed as an overarching subject to delineate the task and structure. Knowledge as a public domain which expands in an entropic continuous way and its spatial structuring of this space are used as a thesis and quest for cultural relevance of open space on Linkeroever.
more info on the tour:
Maxime Peeters
Sunday, May 31, 2015 - 14:30
Sint-Jansvliet, Sint-Jansvliet more
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