While every attempt to make architecture seems to drift off into the rhetoric of programmatic organization and ironic provocation, form and space as such have become a rare commodity. In our projects we try to counter this by making direct and precise spatial proposals, formal compositions without rhetoric. This literal architecture aims for a phenomenological experience, perhaps despite of its programme.
Kersten Geers & David Van Severen
OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen was founded in 2002 by Kersten Geers and David Van Severen. OFFICE is renowned for its idiosyncratic architecture, in which realisations and theoretical projects stand side by side. The projects are direct, spatial and firmly rooted in architectural theory. The firm reduces architecture to its very essence and most original form: a limited set of basic geometric rules is used to create a framework within which life unfolds out in all its complexity.
Since its establishment in Brussels, OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen has earned a reputation as one of Belgium’s most successful and renowned practices, and one of the world’s truly original voices in present-day architecture. OFFICE engages in all architectural and urbanist design, creating projects of all scales ranging from furniture to masterplanning in Belgium as well as internationally. This practice is combined with academic research and teaching. These two aspects of OFFICE’s work are explicitly each other’s mirror, creating unexpected parallels between academic and practical work.
OFFICE gained international attention in 2005 with two competition-winning projects: A Grammar for the City, for a new administrative capital city in South Korea, and Border Garden, a border-crossing between Mexico and the USA. In 2008 they represented Belgium at the 11th Architecture Biennale in Venice, followed by their first solo exhibition at deSingel arts centre (Antwerp) in 2009. The same year, OFFICE contributed to the Ordos 100 project in China together with 99 other promising architectural firms, chosen by Herzog & De Meuron and Ai Weiwei. In 2010, the firm was invited by Kazuyo Sejima (SANAA) to participate in the 12th Architecture Biennale in Venice. Their Garden Pavilion project, in collaboration with the Dutch photographer Bas Princen, was awarded with the Silver Lion for most promising young architects.
In 2013 – 2014 OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen completed the Arbor Drying Hall in Hulshout, the new Library for the Faculty of Architecture and Engineering in Ghent, for which OFFICE received the Belgian Architecture Prize for housing and small interventions, and the new building of the agriculture school De Wijnpers in Leuven, which has been nominated for the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award 2015. In 2015 – 2016 they completed two cultural centres in Bahrain, as well as Der Bau, a villa with a compact grid of rooms on a large secluded site in the periphery of Brussels, and the residence and atelier of Brussels artist Thomas Lerooy. In 2017, the impressive Solo House reached completion. The iconic circular building is nominated for the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award 2019.
OFFICE is currently working on the Crematorium Polderbos in Ostend, the renovation and transformation of ‘Lot C’ of the Caserne de Reuilly in Paris, ‘Campus RTS’, the new headquarters of Radio Télévision Suisse on the EPFL/UNIL campus in Lausanne, the redevelopment of the ‘Havenlaan 12’ site in the Brussels Canal area, a mixed-use building for contemporary art centre Yale Union in Portland (Oregon) and the construction of an olive oil mill on the Trebbio estate in Tuscany, among other projects.
In 2012 a monograph on the work of OFFICE was published in 2G magazine (2G #63). In 2016, El Croquis N° 185 was dedicated to the practice. On the occasion of the retrospective ‘Everything Architecture’ at BOZAR in Brussels, Arc-en-Rêve centre d’architecture in Bordeaux and the Architectural Association in London, ‘OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen — 1, 2 & 3’, an oeuvre catalogue was published by Walther König in 2017.
Kersten Geers and David Van Severen have held several teaching positions at international architecture schools. They are currently teaching at the the EPFL in Lausanne, the Harvard Graduate School of Design and Columbia GSAPP. Both regularly give lectures on their work, and Geers regularly publishes articles on architecture, and is co-founder and editor of San Rocco Magazine.