1705 Natura Naturans
Location DeSingel, Antwerpen (BE)
Program Retrospective Exhibition COUSSEE & GORIS architecten
Production Flanders Architecture Institute, deSingel International Arts Campus
Curator Christian Kieckens
Scenography Christian Kieckens, Ralf Coussée and Klaas Goris
Photography Hisao Suzuki
On view from 23.02.2018
Twenty years after founding their firm and ten years after being awarded the Flemish Cultural Prize for Architecture, Ralf Coussée and Klaas Goris present an overview of their oeuvre with an exhibition. In Natura Naturans they emphasise the importance of the surrounding landscape, the inspiration that they draw from the artistic and literary repertory of contemporary artists like Guiseppe Penone, and the value that is added by collaborations with like-minded architectural firms such as RCR Arquitectes, Gafpa and Raamwerk.
The concept of natura naturans was used by the philosopher Baruch Spinoza (1632–1677). Loosely translated, it means ‘nature doing what nature does’, i.e. creative nature. Spinoza contrasted this concept with natura naturata, i.e. created nature. Ralf Coussée and Klaas Goris refer to this concept in each representation of their buildings. In doing so they show that the natural quality of the building material is inherently related to the cultural quality of the design. Natura Naturans offers a look back at what has been achieved and reveals the singularity in the work of COUSSÉE & GORIS architecten. A collection of models displayed like a campo marzio shows a selection of their work from the past decade. On the walls, artist Marie-Françoise Plissart outlines the use of spatiality in the buildings by means of photographs and film screenings. In the exhibition, she presents a personal interpretation of the work of COUSSÉE & GORIS architects. Using photographs and video clips, she has created her own version of the buildings designed by the firm over the past ten years. The result is an idiosyncratic visual journey in which Plissart places herself in the viewer’s shoes.
For Coussée & Goris, building is an active deed that is indissolubly connected with a well-considered (intelligent) and natural (organic) association with place and space, with light and shadow, with question (programme) and answer (architectonic result). Each architecture project is on obstacle on earth. For Coussée & Goris, the proper embedding of obstacles possesses an architectonic value in which each result of construction emanates a logic. Personal in nature and expression, there is always a new incontestability to detect, as though the building had always been there. The designs are evidence of more than a pragmatic translation from discourse to built reality. For Coussée & Goris, building means the realization of an inherent development, of an obvious thought process and a spatial generosity. Based on both disegno (the design, drawing) and progettare (the act of designing, foreseeing), the architects develop a language of their own, with a clear structure, a recognizable presence and a pronounced volumetry. The architects’ way of thinking fits both in the city and in the country. They constantly question the existing, and this yields a transcendent form of unmistakable professionalism. And while their analyses and reflections are naturans in terms of essential meaning, their buildings become architettura naturata.
- Christian Kieckens, 2017