Nathalie Schils

Nathalie Schils

The landscraper. PHL Diepenbeek (Belgium)

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The results of the town-planning analysis show that an expansion of the centre of town in a south-eastern direction (this is towards the area of the “Ijzeren Rijn”) is impossible because of the presence of the railway traffic.

In order to break through this physical en psychological boundary a surface is extended beneath the railway, leading to a park and replacing the tracks of the ‘Ijzeren Rijn” all the way to Germany.

This creates an artificial difference in levels that is tided over and continued by the landscraper.

This concept expresses the notion of the building as a development and intensification of the landscape, instead of an object which is simply placed on the surface of the earth (like the skyscraper).

The modernists want to build objects that confound the land. Since this is impossible, however one had better transform the land itself. The basic characteristics of the land are expressed by ‘the landscraper’, moulded into a concrete form and turned into an object. Therefore, the importance of the genius loci is obvious.

There is also a refusal to summarize the building, at the front or in a central space. So what might have been a central point is now moved outwards.

The program contains an art-library which is connected to a centre for arts with workshops, exposition rooms, offices, an auditory and a coffee-shop.

The building doesn’t stand on its own but it fits in the every day movement. The boundaries between the inside and the outside fade through the presence of various kinds of entries and passages, aiming to give the visitors the possibility to sense and discover the building like a sculpture.

In this way function and image are related.

Volumes of glass are shoved into the concrete mass to make sure that the exposition rooms receive plenty of light. The ring of Möbius is integrated and relates the various functions.

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