ARCHIVE PRESENTATION: T.O.P. office
M HKA, Antwerpen
13 February 2021 - 25 April 2021
T.O.P. office (Turn-On Planning office) is an architecture and urban planning collective founded by Luc Deleu (1944) in Antwerp in 1970. Deleu is notorious for his statement "I think that every architect is an artist. And if he's not an artist, he's not an architect either." Deleu considers both to be closely related manifestations of thought.
Luc Deleu gradually develops the notion of what he refers to as 'orbanism': urban architectural thinking is no longer based on the scale of the city (urbanism), but rather on the scale of the globe (orbanism). After the publication of his Orban Planning Manifesto in 1980, Deleu remained continuously and radically focused on social reflection on, and through, art and urbanism.
Luc Deleu is a major presence on the Flemish and Belgian architectural scene. His unconventional insights still influence generations of architecture students to this day and have a profound impact on the architectural debate. T.O.P. office was in this respect one of the pioneers of the notion of 'design-based research'.
The archive presentation at the M HKA focuses on a number of buildings realised by T.O.P. office, structures in which Deleus' reflections are clearly expressed. Using archival material including models, photographs, clippings, designs and plans, we are given a unique insight into the creation, development and realisation of several striking buildings, such as the Hotel Stôk (1992-1995) in Poortugaal (The Netherlands), the Clinckx House (1998-2001) in Ekeren, the Casa Roja (1998-2005) in Tervuren, the Belpaire House (2003-2007) in Steenhuize (Herzele), and the Belle Epoque Centre (2004-2010) in Blankenberge. Luc Deleus' exceptional creativity, precision, attention to space and form, thorough research mentality and social commitment turn these buildings into works of art and tangible places of reflection on art and architecture.
In the presentation, special attention is paid to the Dépendance Furka in Switzerland, the workplace of Panamarenko (1940-2019), core artist in the M HKA collection. Luc Deleu was a good friend of Panamarenko and he supervised all the renovations to the Panamarenko house on the Biekorfstraat in Antwerp. The M HKA has been managing this property since 2002.
Cooperation CKV/M HKA and VAi
The Centre for Art Archives in Flanders (CKV) together with its partner the Flanders Architecture Institute (VAi), is exploring how to sustainably preserve the archive, the knowledge and the ideas of Luc Deleu and T.O.P. office. Both institutions are committed to the task of permanently keeping this body of knowledge alive. This in dialogue with T.O.P. office: Luc Deleu and Laurette Gillemot, and assistants Steven Van den Bergh and Isabelle De Smet.
In which ways could an estate be organised? What can remain in the public domain and how can an estate function as an underlying foundation that informs the architectural practice - both that of T.O.P. office, as well as that of other artists and designers? To find answers, CKV and the VAi mapped out the archive and organised a moment of reflection that takes place at each turn of the season. During two comprehensive study afternoons, actors from the academic, architectural and visual arts fields were included in a broader search for answers regarding the safeguarding and valorisation of knowledge and archives. This will now be continued in the trajectory that includes a summary exhibition by the VAi in the Singel, a book and an archive presentation in the M HKA.
Project Future Plans
On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of T.O.P. office, the Flanders Architecture Institute (VAi) launches the umbrella project Future Plans. With this initiative, the VAi, together with the partner organisations involved, aims to preserve, advance and disseminate the potential of the societal reflections as developed by T.O.P. office through, and on the basis of, design practice and design education. So far, this has resulted in a book, two exhibitions, a documentary and two educational and participatory projects. Future Plans is also the perspective from which the analogue and digital archives of T.O.P. office are examined: which archival material retains the promise of a future plan? More information on vai.be