The third issue of the critical review Dixit in which the words of the architectural practice OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen and the Brussels artist Richard Venlet confront each other around the theme of "Still Life".
The completion of the crematorium in Ostend, a collaboration between artist Richard Venlet and OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen, gave them the opportunity to look back upon more than fifteen years of working together. This joint effort is based on a shared interest in abstract figures and how they populate and create spaces.
As the self-renewing discipline that is architecture, Caryatide editions picks up the torch of the critical magazine—which was their very first form. They wish to enrich the debate around architecture by bringing a word that confronts to the news. Architecture is at the convergence of questioning, a discipline nourished by cross-disciplinary approaches. As such, as a signature, Caryatide endeavours to keep a critical point of view, enriched by a social and political look which the architectural discipline depends on, to highlight its complexity and aspirations.
For each issue, three times a year, two contributors are invited to share their thoughts on a new theme.
OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen is a Brussels-based architectural practice founded in 2002 by Kersten Geers and David Van Severen. OFFICE is renowned for its idiosyncratic architecture, which includes both productions and theoretical projects. The projects are direct, spatial and firmly rooted in architectural theory. The firm reduces architecture to its very essence and to its most original form: a limited set of basic geometric rules is used to create a framework within which life unfolds in all its com- plexity. OFFICE engages in all kinds of architectural design and urban planning, creating projects on different scales that range from furniture to masterplanning, both in Belgium and internationally. This practice is combined with academic research, since Geers and Van Severen have taught at various institutions, such as the Berlage Institute, Harvard GSD, EPFL and Mendrisio. These two aspects of OFFICE's work explicitly mirror each other, creating unexpected parallels between academic and practical work.
OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen has received numerous honours and awards, including the Belgian Prize for Architecture, the Art Prize Berlin and the Silver Lion at the 12th Venice Architecture Bienniale. Recent projects include the RTS building in Lausanne, the VRT building in Brussels, the Galerie Lafayette store in Paris, Solo House in Spain, Cultural centres in Bahrain, the Brewery and Tondo footbridge in Brussels, the Caserne de Reuilly housing complex in Paris, and the Crematorium in Ostend, in collaboration with the artist Richard Venlet.
The work of Brussels-based artist Richard Venlet (born 1964 in Hamilton, Australia) combines installation art, artistic research, exhibition design and architecture. His work has been shown in numerous national and international galleries and museums, including: WIELS and BOZAR in Brussels, S.M.A.K. in Ghent, Kunsthalle in Düsseldorf, Macba in Barcelona and Culturgest in Lisbon, amongst others. Venlet creates "environments" out of spaces. His refined abstract aesthetics and the pragmatism of his work go well beyond a simple formal reference to Modernism and Minimalism. Working in context-specific situations, he has produced numerous installations that incorporate the work of other artists and collaborators, forming composite and circuitous environments that are often whimsical reconfigurations of the architectural space. By intervening in a space, the artist gives the viewer an experience of alienation; making them see their surroundings in a new way and occupy a central place in them. As an artist who deliberately intervenes within architectural and exhibition spaces, Venlet pursues this interest in architectural production by means of regular collaborations with architectural offices, such as OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen.