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Hans Ibelings

Bibliographic reference
Architectures Wallonie-Bruxelles, Inventaires #0 Inventories, 2001-2010, p. 217


"A marginal role at the heart of Europe"

A10, New European Architecture
A10, New European Architecture
Seen from the European perspective adopted by the A10 New European Architecture journal, it is safe to say that architecture has become a booming sector in the French-speaking Community Wallonia-Brussels over the past few years. From the very first issues published in the winter of 2004/2005, architects and architectural designs in the French-speaking Community Wallonia-Brussels have consistently been a staple feature in an architectural land-scape spanning Europe, from Iceland to Turkey and from Portugal to Russia.
Until recently, the French-speaking Community Wallonia-Brussels very rarely generated any kind of buzz on the international stage, nor was its voice heard very clearly in the concert of nations. In federalised Belgium, a national debate on the topic of architecture is out of the question. Conclusion: due to its low-key international presence, the French-speaking Community Wallonia-Brussels has, to a certain extent, condemned itself to isolation.
Without wishing to overstate the role of an architecture magazine, it is indisputably important that certain creations benefit from a media coverage. The magazine generally serves as its instrument.
However, the media universe triggers a positive retroaction: what is known becomes even more so. To the detriment of that which is not. Non-mediatised structures are quicker to be relegated to oblivion.
A10 is the antidote to oblivion. It is an international platform that firmly trains the spotlight on the treasures that are overshadowed by an already omnipresent elite. Architecture in the French-Community Wallonia-Brussels has its place in this context: where architectural designs regularly verge on works of art. A10 in particular gives a platform to architects and architectural agencies such as Artau, Pierre Hebbelinck, Mario Garzaniti, L’Escaut, LAB[au], Matador, Alain Richard and V+. A representative sample of the many creators that will define the face of architecture in French-speaking Belgium over the next few years. These architects may not be media darlings. The media are not the environment in which they thrive. But if Marcel Smets has drawn attention to Flemish prudence and its taste for simplicity, the architecture recently produced in the French-speaking Community Wallonia-Brussels does not hide its desire for adventure, modest as it may be. At the risk of making a sweeping generalisation, French-speaking Belgian architects are perhaps more anxious to use their art to bring about change than their Flemish counterparts.
The new architecture in the French-speaking Community Wallonia-Brussels is showing signs of a resurrection in the broadest sense of the word. Since its industrial decline, Wallonia has had to contend with a difficult socio-economic situation. But recovery is on the horizon. Contemporary architecture contributes to this recovery, embodies it and, by the same token, is a result of this recovery… as is the case for Brussels.

Hans Ibelings
is an architecture historian and critic. He is chief editor of the A10, New European Architecture journal which he founded in 2004 together with Arjan Groot.



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