17 SES 05, Theory & Methodology (Part 1)
Paper Session to be continued in 17 SES 06
This presentation will discuss the architectural pedagogy of the Belgian architect, artist and philosopher Luc Deleu. Following the material turn in the historiography of education, specific attention will be given to how Deleu translates his vision on societal and educational issues such as transportation, environment and inequality into architectural and artistic objects. We will consider realized monuments and models but also drawings of projects that weren’t realized.
Luc Deleu is head of the T.O.P Office (“Turn On Planning”), founded in 1970 in Antwerp and taught at Sint-Lucas in Brussels. Although he proclaimed the end of architecture shorlty after his graduation in 1970, Deleu has continued to formulate proposals, advices and projects for a more meaningful organization of the world. Inspired and triggered by contemporary issues he tries to formulate an architecturally interesting and ethically commited response, opening up unforeseen horizons. The proposal to shoot nuclear waste towards the sun, or to construct a railroad on top of the urban infrastructure of Brussels (“BXL Station Europa Centraal”) are just some examples of his thought-provoking ideas which he often depicts in sketches, drawings or models. Deleu always tries to start from the situation as it shows itself in its contemporary urgency. Starting from the conviction that the 20th century has witnessed a strong inclination to build and to solve societal issues with only more buildings – the Siedlungen of the modernists are exemplary –, he instead tries to start from existing structures and to transform these to meet the problems of today. A clear example is his proposal for the University of Antwerp which he formulated in 1972: Deleu proposed to turn the aircraft carriers for the Vietnam war into a floating university, the “Mobile Medium University (Floating UIA)”.
Deleu has stated his ideas in two more theoretical works. In 1980 he wrote the “Orbanist Manifesto”, his vision on the worldly responsibility of architecture, an architecture which extensifies the space of the world with ultrastructures and at the same time intensifies the individual freedom of human beings, thus mediating between large scale order and small scale chaos. 2002 saw the publication of “De Onaangepaste Stad (D.O.S. XXI)”, the unadapted city. It is the result of many years of research and design around the question of the orbanist city. After an excursion with students to Vienna, Deleu started drawing images of a line city. He elaborated different projects such as “Vipcity”, “Octopus” and “Brikabrak” which came together in the publication of D.O.S. XXI. Both works bear clear references to the work of Le Corbusier. Both the “Orbanist Manifesto” and “De Onaangepaste Stad” can be read as attempts to rewrite the Charter of Athens, “The Functional City”, written amongst other by Le Corbusier after CIAM IV in 1933, to the contemporary society. The designs for D.O.S. XXI refer to Le Corbusier’s “Plan Obus” for Algiers.
Monumentality and mobility, small scale chaos and large scale order, the malleability of urban infrastructure and the multiplicity of urban life are the major paradoxes Deleu investigates within his work. In this work he always keeps close to the historical material at hand which he tries to transform into what he calls orbanist architecture. Therefore, Luc Deleu is not an idealist or a utopist, he doesn’t create ex nihilo. According to Geert Bekaert: “Deleu is a radical realist. He doesn’t dream about another, ideal world, but dares to think about a better world which uses the means that are already available in our actual world in a more thoughtful, witty and democratic way”.
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