Arte, ciudad, arquitectura

Robbrecht & Daem’s Anthology

Josean Ruiz Esquíroz 

This anthology on Robbrecht en Daem is superlative. It weighs and takes up space like a brick, but is complex like a city. Everything in it is organized by means of a mathematical series until it takes on its physical dimensions. 63 projects are organized in 11 categories, with 9 buildings highlighted. Texts and drawings are exquisitely edited, with black and white predominating.

Both born in 1950, Robbrecht and Daem set up practice in 1975. The first project to appear in the book – not the oldest – is a tiny puppet theater (2015), under ‘Elemental Architecture.’ It is a search for origins that leads back to Laugier’s primitive hut, evoked by the pitched roofs of the market and square in Ghent, but also to Semper’s textile architecture (Rubens Square, Knokke). These references are complemented by a dialogue with the Belgian masters Van de Velde and Horta, as well as with the Mies of Krefeld, establishing a play of appearances and reconstructions. Remarkable is their collaboration with the art world, whether designing galleries or organizing urban spaces with Cristina Iglesias. Among their most ambitious projects are the concert hall in Bruges and the Flemish TV/radio company VTR.

The last project featured is neither the most recent nor the largest, but it is perhaps the most poetic: the House Where It’s Always Raining (Barcelona, 1992), a collaboration with another Spanish artist, Juan Muñoz. Architecture and art are woven together, creating concepts and diluting boundaries between authors and cities.

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