“Parkings redesigned” at deSingel International Arts Campus

Raf Ilsbroekx explores the possibilities for repurposing these underground spaces, which are often sited in strategic locations in city centres. What uses are achievable or worthwhile? What modifications are necessary?


BWMSTR Label / Casco -1 stadsparkings herbestemd © Raf Ilsbroeckx


Flanders has many city car parks, most of which are underground and located in city centres. In the current discourse surrounding the liveable city, there is a tendency to cut back on these car parks, which draw car traffic right into the heart of cities. The arrival of self-driving cars, in combination with a shared mobility model, will result in a sharp reduction in demand for parking over the coming years. (more…)

“The facade of The Hotel Aubecq” at Kanal Centre Pompidou Brussels

What to do with the facade of the Hotel Aubecq, one of Victor Horta’s finest achievements? Such is the question that this exhibition seeks to raise. Hôtel Aubecq is one of Victor Horta’s finest achievements, as regards both the built result and the relationship that the architect had with the client, Octave Aubecq, throughout the conception of the project.


“The facade of The Hotel Aubecq” © Coll. CIVA, Brussels, Armelle CARON, 2018


Aubecq was authoritarian and peremptory, Horta stubborn and clever: both men hit it off wonderfully! A pure masterpiece, the curving façade of this semi-detached building presents a rather unusual structure: no longer composed of metallic girders as before, but of bluestone from Wallonia cleverly set off by grey and red granite. (more…)

“Léon Stynen, architect” at deSingel International Arts Campus

The exhibition ‘Léon Stynen, architect’ displays iconic designs from Stynen’s rich archive. This material is brought to life with photos, models, pieces from private collections and testimonials from colleagues, employees and clients.


BP-building, 19560, Léon Stynen i.s.m. Paul De Meyer © VAi

BP-building, 19560, Léon Stynen i.s.m. Paul De Meyer © VAi


The best-known designs by Léon Stynen (1899-1990) include the Belgian Pavilion for the World’s Fair in New York – in collaboration with Henry van de Velde and Victor Bourgeois -, Antwerp’s BP building, the casinos at Ostend and Knokke, and deSingel. As director of the Academy of Antwerp’s architecture department (1948) and the National Superior Institute of Architecture and Decorative Arts La Cambre (1950), he also played a leading role in the development of architectural education. In 1963 he became the first national chairman of the Order of Architects.  (more…)

CIVA Brussels presents “(re)compose the city” exhibition

The exhibition considers the period of reflection on the North-South Connection, from 1836 to 1952, as a town planning laboratory to turn Brussels into the capital of Belgium. The exhibition is based on several unbuilt projects that highlight this period, selected from entries of competitions, research works and other controversial approaches, preserved in the Civa archives.


Zuidstation, Lucien de Vestel, [1936], ingebed in Brussel, 2018 © Marie TROSSAT

Zuidstation, Lucien de Vestel, [1936], ingebed in Brussel, 2018 © Marie TROSSAT

The North-South Connection is generally seen as a trauma in the belief of Brussels denizens, a major error and the result of a lack of a strong-willed and coherent urban policy. The reflection on this railway layout linking the city’s North and South stations actually led to a broader town planning approach on the scale of Brussels – from its beginnings, in fact, in 1836, because this layout is closely linked to the creation of a station in the heart of the city. This aim persisted when construction work on the tunnel resumed in 1935, because the choice of an open trench required recomposing the urban structure over more than two kilometers in length. (more…)

“Victor Horta and Brussels” at CIVA

This exhibition, organised by the Directorate of Monuments and Sites in the Brussels Capital Region, provides an overall introduction to the work of architect Victor Horta with a presentation of his major works built in Brussels.


"Victor Horta and Brussels" Victor Horta © CIVA
“Victor Horta and Brussels” Victor Horta © CIVA


It invites visitors to discover the secrets behind the creative work of one of Art Nouveau’s greatest artists, a movement which revolutionised European spatial and architectural concepts at the dawn of the 20th century. A series of photographs, documents and plans highlight the value of this extraordinary legacy. (more…)

“Operational aesthetics” at CIVA Brussels

The exhibition “Operational aesthetics” has thoroughly researched Brussels’ so called Neighbourhood Contracts. CIVA took the opportunity of the upcoming anniversary of those Neighbourhood Contracts – a planning tool specific to Brussels – to fully understand the legal devices, processes and political visions that shape the city, its urban planning and architectural projects.


SUPERSTUDIO, Salvataggi di centri storici italiani (1972) © CIVA

SUPERSTUDIO, Salvataggi di centri storici italiani (1972) © CIVA


At the heart of this approach lies the fundamental process used to create a city, placing the question of its exegesis before it has been drawn on paper or constructed in reality. Shortly after its creation in 1989, the Brussels Region started investing in the revitalisation of its older neighbourhoods, seeking to rehabilitate the physical property while simultaneously breathing new life into their social and economic conditions. (more…)

“The Bench: a Microscopy” at CIVA Brussels

Heavy, immobile and commonplace, a bench is one of those objects that one seldom looks at. Our eyes, drawn towards those things that actively invite our attention, slide past it. The exhibition, The Bench : A Microscopy, shifts the focus. It moves the bench from the periphery to the centre of attention and interrogates its relationship, and ours, with its urban and rural surroundings.


"The Bench: a Microscopy" © CIVA

“The Bench: a Microscopy” © CIVA


It also investigates the importance of underlying immaterial structures, such as the ways in which we move around. This project, inspired by Michael Jakob’s book, Poétique du banc, was set up in France in 2016 in the L’Onde art centre in Vélizy-Villacoublay and the Graineterie art centre in Houilles. (more…)

Public spaces to connect the heart of a city, “A Building-Square” by Multiple

Following the FRAC Centre by Lacaton & Vassal, winner of the BigMat ’17 International Architecture Award, in this edition of our weekly post we discover the winner of the National Prize in Walloon and Brussels City regions of Belgium: “A Building-square” in Herstal by Multiple Architecture & Urbanisme.


“A Building-Square” in Herstal, Belgium, by Multiple Architecture & Urbanisme © Filip Dujardin

“A Building-Square” in Herstal, Belgium, by Multiple Architecture & Urbanisme © Filip Dujardin


In Herstal, an old city block made of hangars and abandoned houses left room for set spaces such as a new train station, housing and shopping facilities laid out around a new public square. The project also includes the refurbishment of a park containing urban vegetable gardens for the inhabitants of the city. The station has been viewed as an opportunity to create a link between two different levels of the city: the lower (the square, the dense urban fabric) and the upper (the trains, the hillsides, the park). The concept of the building-square integrates two main stakes: it generates an intermediate level, a belvedere and articulates the different levels of the public space. (more…)

“Dom Hans van der Laan. A House for the Mind” at deSingel Antwerpen

In 1977 the architect and monk Dom Hans van der Laan published ‘The Architectonic Space, 15 lessons in the Disposition of Human Dwelling’. This was a theory that was intended to capture and bring order to the essence of the spatial experience as the basis for the design process. The exhibition seeks out the tangible world associated with Van der Laan’s philosophy.


"Dom Hans van der Laan. A House for the Mind" © Coen van der Heiden

“Dom Hans van der Laan. A House for the Mind” © Coen van der Heiden


Whilst he was writing his treatise, Van der Laan was building Roosenberg Abbey in Waasmunster. In this project, he intuitively worked with concepts such as ‘proximity’ and ‘superposition’ as spatial gestures for stillness and spirituality on the one hand, and intensity of encounter on the other. As well as original drawings and models, A House for the Mind will present fresh analyses by academics and artists on teaching material, furniture, tableware, clothing and typography by Van der Laan. These are the silent witnesses to a sojourn at the abbey. (more…)

“Save | Change the City” an unbuilt, alternative Brussels at CIVA Stichting

The exhibition shows a Brussels that used to exist, but is no longer there. A Brussels that somehow was proved possible to save. And a Brussels that could have been: a perfect fit in the CIVA’s new Unbuilt Brussels series, which shows a city that was thought up but never built.


Petit Château Quarter, 1976. Architects Jean-Pierre HOA, Philippe LEFEBVRE-BRANDES, Elie LEVY, Caroline MIEROP & Anne VAN LOO // La Cambre  Students (Didier ANGE& Brigitte BUYSSENS )

Petit Château Quarter, 1976. Architects Jean-Pierre HOA, Philippe LEFEBVRE-BRANDES, Elie LEVY, Caroline MIEROP & Anne VAN LOO // La Cambre Students (Didier ANGE& Brigitte BUYSSENS )


Brusselisation” is the key word behind the new exhibition at CIVA Stichting, “Save | Change the City“. The exhibition is part of a double-programme focusing on half a century of town planning in Brussels, under two unique perspectives. “Save | Change the City”  presents an overview of local residents’ initiatives in opposition to ‘Brusselisation’ and explores the alternatives that the two main neighbours’ associations proposed at the time in order to achieve a liveable city – one with respect for its citizens, its architecture, and its heritage.  (more…)