Different modes of practice afford more or less freedom to consider architecture’s fundamental nature and mitigate the extent of the compromises that the external world imposes on it. This freedom is fought for and not always without cost.
The Flemish architect Marie-José Van Hee has rallied against these compromises throughout thirty years of practice in which she has produced a highly considered and consistent body of work. She has pursued an authentic architecture with diligence, tenacity and a healthy scepticism of prevailing conditions.
David Grandorge in ‘New houses in Belgium and Holland reveal the quiet lyricism of Marie-José Van Hee’ in Architecture Today 224, January 2012
Si ces bureaux sont peu médiatisés par rapport aux stars de l’architecture, ils ne présentent pas moins d’intérêt et laisseront en héritage, aux générations futures, le témoignage de l’attachement à la fois au territoire ainsi que de leurs habitants.
Grégoire Wuillaume in ‘L’Architecture Belge’ in Costruire in Laterizio, April 2014
In her work, Marie-José Van Hee and her team of architects renew the tradition of building timeless architecture. Throughout her career, she has devoted particular attention to space, natural materials and light, and has made use of classical elements such as the window, door, fireplace, staircase and gallery to anchor the house, the public building, or even the city.
Marie-José has over the years gained respect and esteem for the extraordinarily high quality of life offered by the buildings she designs. They manage to capture in an unpretentious way the intimacy of living in stone and light, as well as reinvent the townhouse typology as a cornerstone of the city of tomorrow, qualities which make her work unique. Her designs for public buildings and bridges are less well known, but nevertheless also shape a humanistic vision on architecture and the city, through the valorisation of public space as a meeting place, and the use of an truly authentic architecture to intensify the experience of light, space and human contact.
Marie-José Van Hee (°1950, Ghent BE) studied architecture at the Higher Institute of Architecture Sint- Lucas in Ghent (Hoger Architectuurinstituut Sint-Lucas). She formed her own architecture studio in Ghent in 1975. Since 1990 her office has worked closely together on a number of projects with Robbrecht & Daem architecten, with whom she shares an office in Lieremanstraat in Ghent. Currently, she employs 8-10 collaborators who are working on projects for public buildings, private houses and urban development.
As a professor in architectural design, Marie-José has long been connected with the Architecture Department of Sint-Lucas School of Architecture. She is currently visiting professor at the ETH Zurich. She has lectured on various occasions in Europe, and has been invited as a guest lecturer and critic at universities in Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
Marie-José Van Hee has received various architecture prizes and nominations, on a national and international level. On three occasions she was awarded the Provincial Prize for Architecture (2013 – Province Vlaams-Brabant / 2003 and 1993 – Province Oost-Vlaanderen), and the reconversion of the centre of the cities of Deinze and Ghent received the Prize Bouwmeester in 2013. She was nominated for the Dutch Abe Bonnemaprijs 2013, and was twice nominated for the Mies Van der Rohe European Prize for Architecture (in 1999 for her own house and in 2013 for Market Hall Ghent).
Marie-José Van Hee participated in the 13th Biennale di Venezia on invitation of curator David Chipperfield, and received the Biannual Culture Prize for Architecture of the Flemish Community in 1997. She has been a fellow of the Belgian Royal Academy for Sciences and Art since 2008 and has been recently honoured with the 2017 RIBA International Fellowship.