… to choose incidents and situations from common life, and to relate or describe them, throughout, as far as was possible, in a selection of language really used by men; and, at the same time, to throw over them a certain colouring of imagination, whereby ordinary things should be presented to the mind in an unusual way…
Then the angel may appear, then nature, then things, then others, then, if ever, the achievement of the ordinary, the faith to be plain, or not to be.
This citation from Wordsworth’s preface to his Lyrical Ballads and Stanley Cavell’s late romantic reflections on the ordinary establish the kind of thinking that animates the architecture of the Belgian practice architecten de vylder vinck taillieu (aDVVT). The firm is composed of Jan De Vylder, Inge Vinck and Jo Taillieu, who all studied at Sint-Lucas in Ghent.
The architecture of aDVVT begins in the milieu of everyday existence. Unlike many other architectural styles of today, they go back to the basics of the craft of architecture: they love to build, and this pleasure manifests itself in their actual constructions. Their projects offer a counterbalance to the often rigid and cold structures that are built everywhere these days. Intuitiveness, straightforwardness, playfulness and coincidences are central to their work.
Treating every project separately and starting each time from a blank mental slate, they do not strive for a signature architectural style in their work. Their architecture is very subtle, never dramatically present and does not aim to make overt statements. It’s an architecture that starts from the needs of the client, the programme and the ensuing practical constraints. The materiality of the given is their only guide, and a fresh aesthetic approach emerges out of every new context.
Their aesthetics makes no overarching claim other than to bring out the beauty and potential of what they find. The look of their projects is often determined by practical motivations and solutions, and the decorations that arise from these factors. The ordinary becomes the foundation, the cornerstone. A wide range of ideas are formed during the on-site process, inspired by found objects and emerging through interactions and discussions with contractors.
There is also a layer of humour, with a cultivated wink embedded in the sites for those who take the time to see it. Their buildings become paintings that often conceal a trompe l’oeil, a deception of the the eye. They love to play tricks while at the same time hiding their hand in the construction.
Text by Angélique Campens (Vernacular Variations, Domus 966, February 2013)
aDVVT exhibited work at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2010 and 2012 and represents Belgium again in 2016. Together with photographer Filip Dujardin and interior architects Doorzon, they curated the ‘Bravoure’ installation for the Belgian Pavilion. The firm was invited by Fredi Fischli and Niels Olsen, curators of the gta exhibitions at ETH Zürich, to participate in the exhibition ‘Theater Objects. A Stage for Architecture and Art’ in 2014 and again in 2015 for their own show, called ‘Carrousel’. Also in 2015, work by aDVVT was part of the Chicago Architecture Biennale. The work of aDVVT appeared in many publications as in A+U – Poetry of Modesty (March 2016). Three monographs were published to date: in 2011 by MER Paperkunsthalle and deSingel (Book 1, 2 and 3), in 2013 by 2G (#66) and in 2016 by De Aedibus International (#13).
aDVVT was nominated for the Mies Van Der Rohe Award in 2013 and 2015 and has won several Belgian Architecture Awards. Jan De Vylder, Inge Vinck and Jo Taillieu are very active in architecture education. The trio teaches at Sint-Lucas in Ghent and Brussels (KU Leuven’s Department of Architecture) and at EPFL ENAC in Lausanne.