The House. The Mentor. The Archive.

Christian Kieckens

Christian Kieckens is one of a generation of architects who laid the foundations for the international breakthrough of Flemish architecture in the 1970s. In this retrospective exhibition, we pay tribute to a man who has made reflection on architecture his trade mark.

In Christian Kieckens’ view, architecture is much more than just building houses; it is a way of living. Everything he does is pervaded with architecture. Since the 1970s he has concentrated entirely on ‘research into the independence of architecture’: the churches of Francesco Borromini, the pyramid of Cheops, baroque domes in Bohemia, Swiss neutrality, the work of his mentor Pieter De Bruyne and so on. His career has been a quest for the way word and image, theory and history fuse in the imagination and in use. This is apparent from the visual simplicity of many of his designs.


The title of the exhibition – ‘The house. The mentor. The archive.’ – is a reflection of three major guiding elements in Kieckens’ career. As he puts it: ‘In a house one seeks, imagines and builds. The mentor looks, writes and passes down. While the archive preserves, provides and remains aloof. The architect is not present at this point, what is shown is that which remains.’

This triple division is also noticeable in the design of the exhibition. ‘The house’ is an installation in the form of a space made of textiles on a scale of 1 to 1; ‘the tent, as the origin of architecture’. ‘The archive’ shows both original drawings from the 1974-1995 period and a focus on the transfer of knowledge in his design practice from 1996 to 2015. The third section – ‘the mentor’ – covers his work as a lecturer at various architectural institutions since 1980. It includes documentation of study trips, invitations for guest professorships, publications and student projects, mainly from the Open Studio at Antwerp University.

The essence of Kieckens’ message, both in the exhibition and as an architect and lecturer, is the creation of unity in a design. ‘Designing architecture in which every part is essential. Nothing more, but nothing less either,’ according to Kieckens.

11.02.2016 - 05.06.2016

Flemish Architecture Institute, Antwerp (BE)

Contemporary Architecture

Collaborators :
Co-curator : Maarten Lambrechts
Exhibition design : Christian Kieckens
Graphic design for exhibition and publication : Something Els

Function :
Curator and production management

Photography :
Niels Donkers