We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the winners of the 1st prize and BB Student award of our “Pape Nature Park Gateway” competition - Arthur Schoeler and Corentin Dalon from Belgium!

Arthur Schoeler and Corentin Dalon from Belgium

Arthur Scholer and Corentin Dalon met each other in the architectural office AVA (Arts-Villes-Architectures) that is led by Patrice Neirinck, the architect of the opera of Lille. He has a special approach to architecture including interactions between public space, art and architecture. He is also a teacher in the « La Cambre-Horta » architectural Faculty in Brussels, where Arthur and Corentin graduated. Corentin began his studies in Saint-Etienne architectural school, in France, while Arthur did all his studies in Brussels. Corentin continued his relationship with the Faculty, being assistant teacher in the project studio « Art-paysage-Architecture » which works on the relationship between art, landscape and architecture, as interconnected and poreus worlds.

Those experiences between two countries, Belgium and France, and two universes, the office and the Faculty, built an open-minded way to approach architectural thinking, emphasized by participation at conferences and colloquias around the earth construction, in extenso a kind of soil-conscious architecture.

Brief information about the projects that you/your company have been involved with. For instance what scale have you focused on/preferred, any significant projects where company/ individuals have been involved?

Arthur graduated in 2014 with a project in Brussels that questioned the patrimonial interest of a building, the « Citroen », future « Kanal » in Brussels, trying to reveal it while considering it as a new opportunity. Thus, a relation between the idea of an re-actualizing past, a living building, considering both material and intellectual resources as the beginning of a project. He's now working, in the AVA office, on few types of programs as housings and cultural public buildings.

Corentin graduated in 2017 with a project on a center for orphans in Benin, in Africa. He created an architectural collective with three friends, called « L'Harmattan » for this project, called « Xewa Sowe ». With this center, Corentin started getting interested in earth-construction and in extenso, the construction with natural materials. With this project came thoughts around the « contemporean vernacular » concept and the relation with a territory, culturally and constructively. He's also working on a earth-built projet with BC architects and studies, also in Benin.

What does architecture mean to you and what is the role of an architect in your society?

The architect has a chance, he can handle opportunities to influence, to be a part of the environment by new ways of thinking about the act of building. Approaching a project means connecting an architect, a client, builders, engineers, a soil, creating a collective intelligence to « sketch » personalities, places, solving spatial, human, material and economic equations.

The idea that brought the two young architects together is that architecture has to be thought of as a global system, including materials, territories, cultures, bodies and souls. A project has to be completely integrated to its territory, real and symbolic.

They think that we could learned from asceticism, by thinking of the materials as an opportunity to connect the building to its soil. Indeed, the material is not about just construction, this is poetry, this means exchanges, labour, workers. The materials as a global system are the beginning of a real ecology, in which the human being is considered as part of a global living-system, full of complexity. The economy of the project is a part of this ecology.

Why do you participate in architecture vision competitions?

This competition was an opportunity to confront two ways of thinking about the project. But it was also, and this is probably the most important thing, the first trial for two architects that would like to work together. Discussing a project for a competition is far from what is expected in what is usually and irrevocably called "real life", the one in which an architectural office is part of. Taking the time to talk about the spirit of the project, taking time for it. Drawing, doubting, drawing again, smiling, doubting and so on. And after that just arrival at precision, the excitation of the productive moment. You have to decide, you have to fix a project, not because you could spend many years on it. You have to let a part of its possibility go, and just accept the part that emerged from it.

Participating in competition is a privileged time, evolving in a special spatial-temporel caps, once too fast, once out of time.

What advice would you give to individuals who struggle to decide whether it would be beneficial for them to participate in architecture vision competitions?

Winning is not the first objective, in spite of the pleasure you can take from it. You just have to write your story and if the context wants it, someone will be a part of it and will come into the story of a project.

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