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TRAVELING PERSPECTIVES. Placing impressions of a project in Flanders


Caendia Wijnbelt

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November 1, 2022

Active instances of getting to know a place through experience can be tacit yet situated: they can be embodied, embedded and enacted. This further explores Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s hint of a depth found in the latent form of impressions, in their ‘caché-révélé’ or hidden-revealed. Expressions of such instances, through interpreting reflexive features of buildings that stem from plurilocal collaborations, become productive insights into the mechanisms of place relation, their transfers and interweaving, and their impact in architectural design practices. Most of all, these parcels of the tacit dimension of place interpretation are put forward as such: aggregates that interfere with- and feed a wider relational practice of living environments. Distinct yet intermingling perspectives of a contemporary architectural realisation are drawn out through a dive into the meeting and convention centre in Bruges. This is a building designed by two offices based in different architectural environments — the Portuguese architect (and office) Eduardo Souto de Moura alongside the Antwerp-based firm META architectuurbureau. The building is first approached through its overarching architectural facets and relations to place, and through the lense of site analysis and interpretation by the designers. Two perspectives of the same building are then set in parallel, exploring impressions of place through similarities and differences. From these different modes of apprehending the project, concepts of place and architectural intentions set in motion in this instance are unpacked, involving a transversal reading through a range of architectural communities of practice. The repertoire of places that play an active (and overlooked) or quiescent (yet potent) role in architectural practice are put in question here. The paper investigates how one building in its site specific geographical setting can contain traces of broader architectural contexts. It asks how architectural collaborative approaches that stem from the encounter of different perspectives can be read in the built environment through impressions and expressions in architecture.