A project by Dierendonckblancke Architects in Ghent.
Among the projects submitted for this yearbook there is a conspicuous, renewed interest in the ‘bare’ building. The proverbial Flemish ‘brick in the stomach’ (the Flemish love building) nowadays mainly refers to a façade brick. What is concealed behind the brick façade, the actual construction, usually has less to do with representing solidity and permanence and thus attracts less attention. These days, a whole generation of architects seems to be obsessed with the desire to show more of the business of building than the construction of the outer skin.
There is for example the small 12K house (DierendonckBlancke Architects), caught between two more spacious buildings in a street in Ghent. This small and narrow terraced house is built entirely in large concrete blocks.
This candid gesture is evidence of the fascination with a real and authentic architecture that derives its appearance from the bones and muscles that keep it upright. Although this house summons up many associations with the brutalist architecture of the 1960s and 70s, 12K can only be the way it is because of its scale. This house is a little rascal that is barely nine large concrete blocks wide. Its sturdy, bare appearance dramatises its awkward compression between two larger buildings. Ultimately, the rough stacking of blocks looks like a cute children’s drawing, a figurative composition of elements on an odd scale.
This text is based on an article by Dirk Somers, published in Architecture Review Flanders N°10. Radical Commonplaces. European Architectures from Flanders.