• Visit to BP building and environment led by Expeditie De Stad, 9 December, 2017

Successful launch of Stynen 2018 with a conference in deSingel

From 7 to 9 December 2017, more than 100 Flemish, Belgian and international researchers, heritage workers, students, monument conservationists and other interested parties gathered in deSingel for the conference ‘Architecture and professionalism: New approaches to the work of Léon Stynen and his international contemporaries’. In fifteen presentations divided over three sessions, they examined the work of architect Léon Stynen, his presence in Belgian and international journals, the status of his oeuvre and positioned him in relation to his contemporaries, including Togo Murano, Ronald Rainer, Marcello Piacentini, Dagoberto Ortensi and Emmanuel Lazarides. Just like Stynen, these architects also played an important role in the architectural worlds (cultures) of their respective countries, although they were not well-known further afield.

In short presentations, several Belgian heritage institutions and architectural organisations showcased examples of cultural heritage projects that focus on architects and architecture archives. Many of these initiatives provide inspiration for Stynen 2018, and include projects dedicated to post-war reconstruction archives, those belonging to construction firms, and correspondence between architects. In an interesting lecture, keynote speaker Adrian Forty described Stynen as typifying a generation for whom the advent of modernism called into question everything they had learned in their rather traditional training, and thus represented a major rupture. Listen here  to the lecture entitled ‘How to become a Modernist Architect?’

The conference was followed by visits to Stynen’s buildings in Antwerp, such as his home, deSingel, the BP-building and the apartment block ‘De Zonnewijzer’. On Saturday, some fifty delegates took part in a coach tour from Docomomo in Belgium to other Stynen buildings: Hof Ten Bos, the Elsdonck residence, the former RTT building and the Peter Pan school in Sint-Gillis.

Bringing together international and Belgian researchers, and the presentation of cultural heritage projects focusing on architecture archives, generated many interesting discussions and exchanges. The international contacts that have been forged will form an important basis for the future development of the new Flanders Architecture   Archives. The conference was an excellent start to the year of Léon Stynen in 2018, and revealed the many challenges surrounding the architect’s oeuvre.