An ode to stone and a critical view on conservation.

abbey of Villers-la-Ville, BE

Given one of the most impressive abbeys in the French-speaking part of Belgium as a testsite, questions on conservation rose. Why do we preserve ruins after layers and layers of history? At what point is a pile of stones that once formed walls and cathedrals considered as a ruin to be held in a time capsule? Walls that once represented the robust and local stone are left to be a mere symbolic facade that reminds us of a time that long has passed. Concrete has been poured, steel beams have been added, plants are being removed to secure the structure and conserve the remaining walls. What is left is a nostalgic facade of an image, a theme park for our entertainment.


Why the urge to stop time after layers and layers of evolution, of change, building, adding and removing different types of materials, of textures? The project proposal questions this attitude towards the ruin. It proposes to archive the different stages, to create negatives in it silicone and clay. As a tactile photograph it captures a moment in time. Next step is to radicalise this conservation. By reusing materials we find on the site - in the same vernicular way local materials were once used to build the abbey - to create a new type of stone, we make a concrete capsule on the site. 


publication in A+ magazine, september 2014

exhibition in deSingel, Antwerp, oktober 2014

lecture and exhibition ‘crafting the facade’ in Glasgow School of Arts, september 2016