Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I graduated as an architect at LUCA Arts Ghent in 2008. In 2006 I spent a semester at the Yildiz Technical University in Istanbul, which had – and still has – a big impact on the way I think about architecture and the arts in general. In this cultural melting pot I saw and felt how buildings can tell stories, just by being looked at and by being experienced. After graduation I moved to Maastricht to do a two-year internship at Wiel Arets Architects, where I worked on diverse and large-scale projects in especially Holland and Belgium. After my internship I stayed for other two years at WAA, where I learned more about doing business, about strategic management than about architecture (I hope Wiel will forgive me for saying this).
From 2011 I started to feel an urge to express myself in a more artistic way. I met Eleni Kamma (visual artist based in Brussels and Maastricht) and Gert-Jan Stam (theater maker based in Berlin). For Eleni I did some installation layouts at Villa Romana in Florence (IT) and NAK in Aachen (DE). In 2012 I worked with Gert-Jan on the installation KHOR I for World Horticultural Expo, Floriade, in Venlo (NL). It was a very important project for me, as it gave me the chance to develop a focus that I didn’t have before: it opened ‘performative’ architecture as a new working field, in which I could transfer my ideas about the physical and sensory qualities of space to users/audiences. After the realisation of KHOR I, I founded TAAT (Theatre as Architecture Architecture as Theatre) together with Gert-Jan. We do projects on the cutting edge between Theatre, Architecture and the Visual arts. Next to TAAT I work as a self-employed architect and scenographer.
What would you consider your distinctive achievement?
I’m still a beginner! I see a lot of great achievements to come… I’m not easily satisfied by the end results of projects and I tend to constantly be in a quest for solutions to make things better and more perfect. My distinctive achievement is the same time my weakness: I like seeing things big, both in size and in content. If I believe in an idea, I’m willing to sacrifice a lot of time and effort to get things done.
What are you looking forward to?
To see projects being realised!
At the moment I’m really looking forward to see our BOKRIJK SENGU project evolving. Together with five young Flemish designers we are developing a wooden building kit for a pavilion, made in the open air museum of Bokrijk, with local trees and inspired by the local crafting techniques and the Japanese Sengu ritual, which puts the emphasis on ‘connection to process and material’. In the summer of 2016 (July 24th) the pavilion will be built by the visitors of the museum over the course of just one day.
I’m also looking forward to realise the next three HALL-projects in Ghent, Berlin and Brussels in the autumn of this year. Together with Eleni I’m preparing the realisation for three public artworks in Sittard, Born and Geleen, also planned out in 2016.
I’m looking forward to being busy, as you can see! Generally I’m looking forward to get out in the world with the projects I do and to meet people in doing so!
Which advice will you give to other professionals?
Aim high and share the energy to everybody you work with (both in and out of your team).
Believe in your ideas but stay critical in every stage of realising them. I think it’s extremely important to ‘protect’ and ‘isolate’ the core of an idea, and to be open to critical points of view to make the project stronger artistically and in terms of feasibility. The more simple an idea is, the easier it becomes to invite a broad group of people to take part in it.
Don’t put energy in negative preoccupations.
What are the challenges that we need to overcome to make cultural entrepreneurship more accessible?
It’s all about people. I believe great ideas can only be realised by creating a common ground to realise them. I saw a lecture of Christo a while ago. His interventions look very simple as an end result. But the real effort – and this was shown beautifully through pictures and movies – was put into inviting municipalities, local peer groups, volunteers, … to take part in the project and even to start ‘owning’ it. The biggest challenge – I believe – for ‘culture’ in general is to change the cultural institutions from ‘deliverers’ of entertainment to active ‘bodies’ in the public realm. Cultural entrepreneurs have the power to provide strategies for this and to connect great artistic projects in close relation to society.