2018 is the year in which the Flanders Architecture Institute, deSingel international arts campus, the Province of Antwerp and the City of Antwerp place the oeuvre of the Belgian modernist architect Léon Stynen (1899–1990) in the spotligh through numerous activities.
Few Belgian architects have left behind such a striking and diverse oeuvre as Léon Stynen. For more than fifty years, from the early 1920s to the end of his professional career in 1977, he was active as an architect, urbanist and designer. He worked all over the country, but with a great love for his native city of Antwerp. Several of the most important modernist buildings in Belgium bear his name. The most famous buildings by Stynen are deSingel, the BP-building and the casinos of Ostend and Knokke.
2018 is the year in which the Flanders Architecture Institute, deSingel, the Province of Antwerp and the City of Antwerp place the oeuvre of the Belgian modernist architect Léon Stynen (1899–1990) in the spotlight. This is done through numerous activities, such as the retrospective exhibition Léon Stynen, Architect in deSingel (Autumn 2018), the Architecture Cabinet exhibitions Stynen Chooses Art and Stynen in Chandigarh, and the publication Léon Stynen. A Life of Architecture (1899-1990). Stynen also plays a prominent role during Heritage Day Flanders ('Open Monumentendag') (9 September 2018), and we will also be organising various cycling and walking tours, lectures…
In October 2018 the Flanders Architecture Institute and deSingel co-organize an exhibition on the Belgian architect Léon Stynen (1899-1900).
Léon Stynen (1899-1990) trained as an architect at the Academy in Antwerp. Among his most famous designs are the Belgian pavilion for the world exhibition in New York (in collaboration with Henry van de Velde and Victor Bourgeois), the BP-building, the casinos of Ostend and Knokke and, of course, deSingel. In addition to the realisation of an important architectural oeuvre, he also played a major role in the development of architecture education and architectural culture in Belgium. He became director of the Architecture Department of the Antwerp Academy in 1948. In 1950, he became director of the National Higher Institute for Architecture and the Decorative Arts in La Cambre. In 1963, the then recently established Order of Architects selected him as their first national president.
Despite this impressive career, many people no longer know his designs and his name is relatively unknown to the general public. The exhibition 'Léon Stynen, Architect' aims to change this situation. Artefacts from the rich Stynen archive will document a number of iconic designs from the first sketch to finished building. This archival material is brought to life via contemporary and recent architectural photographs, models, works from private collections and the testimonies of former colleagues, employees and clients.
‘Léon Stynen. A Life of Architecture 1899-1990' provides a look inside the impressive oeuvre of Stynen. The origins for this publication lie in the exceptionally rich archive of Stynen and his partner Paul De Meyer, which was donated to the Province of Antwerp in 1988. Today, 30 years later, it is considered one of the most important in the collection of the Flanders Architecture Institute. The oeuvre is introduced by a comprehensive biography, photographed in its current condition by Filip Dujardin and read from mutliple perspectives in 9 essays.Book | Léon Stynen
For the true Stynen-aficionados, together with the City of Antwerp, the Flanders Architecture Institute developed a Stynen Architecture Tour. You can acces the tour by downloading the Antwerp Museum App in your app store (available form 26 August 2018).
Léon Stynen worked with visual artists in many of his designs. He collaborated with painters such as Paul Delvaux, René Guiette or Julien Van Vlasselaer on wall paintings and tapestry designs. He also engaged sculptors such as Oscar Jespers and ceramists like Pierre Caille for sculptural work in or around his buildings. With 'Stynen Chooses Art', we hone in on some of these collaborations and present work by artists from Stynen’s entourage.
In 1963, Léon Stynen visited the city of Chandigarh in India, a design by his great mentor Le Corbusier. Stynen took photographs there, which we show for the first time in this Architecture Cabinet. This beautiful series of images is a reason for further reflection on Stynen’s contacts with Le Corbusier and his relationship with architectural photography.
After the successful Stynen year in 2018, the architecture of the Belgian architect Léon Stynen makes his appearance in the United Kingdom. During the London Festival of Architecture in June 2019 you can visit 'Brutalism on a Human Scale. Post-war Architecture by Léon Stynen (1899-1990) '. With an exhibition, installation and tour, the Flanders Architecture Institute introduces visitors to Stynens brutalism and his special attention to the human scale.
The Architectural Archives of the Province of Antwerp and the Flanders Architecture Institute are hosting an international conference as a prelude to ‘Stynen Year’ in 2018. Belgian designer Léon Stynen (1899-1990) epitomises an entire generation of post-war modernist architects whose oeuvres and profiles share many similarities. Typically, these architects were part of a strong national and international network; up-to-date and knowledgeable; prolific and varied builders (which points to great ideological flexibility); consummate professionals; able to access large-scale and visible commissions.