The Flanders Architecture Institute and deSingel are launching Future Plans, an exhibition comprising work by Luc Deleu & T.O.P. office. Never before has so much work created by this extraordinarily idiosyncratic design office been brought together. Curators Peter Swinnen and Anne Judong were given unlimited access to the archives of T.O.P. office. The result is an exhibition hall bursting at the seams with installations in and around deSingel, unique archive material and new future plans.
Exhibition | 28.04.2021 - 26.09.2021 | deSingel
Opening event | 06.05.2021 | 8 pm | YouTube
Half a century of Luc Deleu & T.O.P. office is the source for this striking exhibition. The title Future Plans serves as a filter through which to explore the living archive. Which projects, whether conceived in the 1970s or 2000s, hold the intelligent promise of a future plan? And how can they inspire the designers, architects, urban planners, ecologists, lawyers, administrators and policy makers of today and tomorrow? A future plan in itself.
Future Plans is not a traditional archive exhibition. It immerses you in the thinking patterns of Luc Deleu & T.O.P. office, without defining all aspects of their work. From breathtaking models (The Nautical Mile, Lego Obelisk, Barcelona Towers, Promenade Pier...), to original photo and video material and even the construction of a 'mirador' or watchtower (Stuurboord-bakboord) providing a view on the Antwerp ring road and later the river Scheldt. The exhibition comprises a wealth of artefacts and archive documents, but also builds on the ideas of Deleu and T.O.P. office. By moving beyond the walls of the exhibition space and also exhibiting in and around deSingel, it connects with the agency's subversive spirit and rolls out the red carpet for future designers and orbanists.
"Armed with a humorous yet relentless logic, T.O.P. office masters the art to hold up a mirror to citizens and politicians."‐ Peter Swinnen, curator Future Plans
Luc Deleu and T.O.P. office operate at the crossroads between architecture and art. In 1970, architect-artist Luc Deleu and his wife Laurette Gillemot founded T.O.P. office, an architecture and urban design studio. Deleu's first move was to stage a solo exhibition saying farewell to architecture. The tone was set for a practice focused on contemplating man’s impact on the planet rather than on construction as such. Architecture as an uncompromising tool to persistently questioning the scale of the planet and the delicate balance with humankind - Deleu himself describes it as 'orbanism'. Since its establishment, T.O.P. office has collaborated with numerous contributors, with Steven Van den Bergh and Isabelle De Smet as permanent and pioneering members of the team. Between 1970 and 2020, this resulted in many (unrequested) proposals for intervention in the public sphere, installations, international competitions, performances and research. Eye-catching developments include the Extended Antwerp Ring Road (1969), Europakruispunt (Europa Crossroads, 1970), Mobile Medium University (1972), De Laatste Steen van België (The Last Stone in Belgium, 1979), Big Triumphal Arch, a container installation (1983), Scale & Perspective: Two Electricity Pylons (1986), Gare Europe Central (1989), Barcelona Towers (1991), Airbase Biekorfstraat, home of Panamarenko (1986-2011), The Nautical Mile (2004), Orban Space (2006-) and Darling Springs (2017-). Having been involved in installations and exhibitions across the globe and with works in the permanent collection of, amongst others, M HKA, SMAK, Argos, Middelheim, Kröller Müller and Flanders Architecture Institute, T.O.P. office is an established concept in the Belgian contemporary art and architecture world.
"I never quite understood why you would first have to wait for a question before formulating an architectural answer"‐ Luc Deleu, architect
In 2020–2021 we are celebrating 50 years of unsolicited practice by Luc Deleu & T.O.P. office. To mark this anniversary, the Flanders Architecture Institute, in collaboration with CIVA, M HKA, Middelheim Museum and Argos, is launching the Future Plans project. The aim of Future Plans is to preserve, continue and disseminate the potential of T.O.P. office’s reflection on society from the perspective of design practice and design education. The project translates concretely into a book, an exhibition and a documentary. Through two additional educational and participatory projects – Studio for Orbanism and FUTURUM – we are working to activate the living archive and pass on the legacy of ideas to future generations of designers, those who imagine the future.
"Although not tied to a specific context or programme, Deleu's models do not constitute a utopian fantasy"‐ André Loeckx, professor-emeritus KULeuven
A book with the same title is an enhancement of the oeuvre based on exploratory and unlimited archive research, rather than a catalogue raisonné (critical catalogue) published on the occasion of T.O.P. office's 50th anniversary. No fewer than 63 projects were selected on the basis of the filter: which projects assimilate the intelligent promise of a future plan? 44 authors reflect on one of the future plans chosen from the list of projects. Established names from the world of art and architecture alternate with new voices, resulting in a multidiscipline and polyphonic perspective on the work of Luc Deleu & T.O.P. office.
In addition to monumental container installations and urban models, the T.O.P. office archive also comprises several projects that are less well-known amongst the general public. Examples include the Belle Epoque Center in Blankenberge (2004-2010), the interior of the Antwerp café De Skipper (1973-75) and the Furkapas Dépendance in Switzerland (1986-97).
As a prelude to Future Plans, M HKA is showing a presentation of part of the T.O.P. office archive until 25 April. The Flanders Architecture Institute has digitized approximately 15,000 photo slides made by Luc Deleu between 1969 and the present. The slides can be viewed at via.be/collection.
LUC DELEU & T.O.P. office FUTURE PLANS
Exhibition Luc Deleu & T.O.P. office. Future Plans 1970-2020
Opening event Luc Deleu & T.O.P. office. Future Plans 1970-2020
Book Luc Deleu & T.O.P. office. Future Plans 1970-2020
With the support of:
With the additional support of:
The 2020-2021 programme of the Flanders Architecture Institute