TV works

Stéphane Beel

Stéphane Beel (b. 1955) studied at various schools in Ghent. In 1983, together with Xaveer de Geyter and Willem-Jan Neutelings, among others, he was part of the Hoogpoort team. The team participated in the competition for the new construction of the Europa intersection in Brussels, with an undaunted design that was dismissed as a joke by the jury. Since his debut in 1985 with Woning V (House V) in Zoersel, Beel has commanded an important place in Belgian architecture, with critics having focused considerable attention to his work from the very beginning. A superficial reading of Beel’s architecture, under the epithet of the nieuwe eenvoud or new simplicity, implies reserved, cleaned up modernism. There is however more going on in Beel’s work. In an all most postmodernist manner, both the history of architecture and the reflection on the place where architecture manifests itself are pushed to their limits. The work consequently refers as much to Duchamp as to Le Corbusier. Villa M, built in 1992, is one of the best examples. It was described by Geert Bekaert as ‘Beel’s purest credo’: an elongated volume in a castle park, summarizing all the parts of a house in perfect coordination. In 1989, an exhibition was devoted to his work at deSingel in Antwerp. For the exhibition, Beel ‘inverted’ the window openings designed by Léon Stynen, the deSingel’s architect, into flecks on a new glass door. It was here that the Container, the mobile studio used for the television program of the same name, was first seen in its completed state. In 2005, an issue of the renowned magazine, El Croquis, was devoted to Beel – a first for a Belgian architect. Beel is currently at the head of a studio that has served as a learning ground for many architects, and in 2007 completed the new courthouse in Ghent. [Christophe Van Gerrewey]