BA Architecture Study trip: Day 4.

We started our fourth day in Genk to see the amazing C-Mine; here we spent a couple of hours exploring ‘Labyrinth’, an incredible steel maze by Architect Gijs Van Vaerenbergh (who is speaking at RIBA on 23rd of January) the structure is comprised of one kilometre of steel corridors on C-mine square and we discovered the numerous spaces which allow you to experience the surroundings from new perspectives in the shadow of the two enormous structures/mine shafts

The maze is overlooked by LUCA School of Arts where students can study in the library with views of the mining remnants. A theatre, museum, gallery and cinema all make up this fantastic cultural centre. We could have happily spent longer exploring the many beautifully kept engine rooms but after a quick wander to the coal tip (in the past Winterslag had two large coal tips that are now re shaped into one large tip) it was time to get back on the coach.

On to Middelheim Sculpture Park where we explored the extensive collection of exhibits ranging from Henry Moore, Ai Wei Wei and Juan Munoz to Chris Burden all illuminated in gorgeous autumn sunshine which made the russet coloured trees all the more beautiful, climbing into a container structure and a very quick game of tennis then taking in the Braem Pavilion to see ‘Recall Sculpture’ – 41 small figurative sculptures dating from 1953 to 73 on loan from the Royal Museum of fine Arts Antwerp.

We then headed back to DeSingel to see two small related exhibitions both highly relevant for both tutors and architecture students alike; the first was a unique collection of architects’ drawings loaned by Alvin Boyarsky (ex-president of the AA school of architecture). These included drawings by Rem Koolhaas, Lebbeus Woods, Archigram, Superstudio, Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid. We were completely bowled over by the second exhibition – exquisite drawings, models, furniture, and textiles related to a monastery project designed by Dom Hans van der Laan

After more coffee and hot chocolate we piled back on the coach and headed to Delft to first visit the TU Delft library (by Mecanoo architects) and then on to the school of architecture hastily designed by MVRDV architects with two infill spaces – a forum and extensive workshops. What was easily apparent was how undergraduates and masters students work alongside each other in this rambling space constructed after the original school burnt down. Here we met up with two ex Brighton students Alex and Harrison now studying for their Part 2 in Delft. They spoke at length to our current first years about studying in Holland and studio culture at Delft. Passing on wise words about working consistently from the start rather than in fits and starts and the importance of reading and understanding technology as an essential part of studying architecture. An inspiring end to a packed day.