In On Ambiguity An Fonteyne talked about the works in architecture of no Aarchitecten. The Belgian practice creates buildings that often give the impression that they have been there since a long time. How is that possible and why would you make a new building, that seems to belong more to its context than many older ones?
For Hasselt University they transformed a former prison into a Faculty of Law. The prison wall, part of the collective memory, was much feared by the University as a symbol of exclusion. noAa keeps it, and turns its meaning inside out. The privilege of spending time inside the wall replaces the image of imprisonment. The Heating Plant they are about to build in Antwerp should become the symbol of the largest sustainable living and working area in Belgium. They construct the 50m high chimney tower as landscape element, like part of a mountain flank or cliff, as in the sixteenth-century paintings of Joachim Patinir. Here, landscape, building, technical elements and structure fuse into a single image. The work often takes place in collaboration with artists and references from different artistic fields feed the design process. This exploration often uncovers unexpected relations and reveals new possibilities. It is an ongoing process of drawing and redrawing, thinking and rethinking. The aim is to create an architecture that has something immediately familiar about it, and yet is distinctly contemporary. While making places, familiar things are collected: things that were there before, things that can be recognised by a wide range of people, things that communicate a cultural and social meaning. Each building is considered as an individual character, with a personality of its own.
An Fonteyne is one of the partners of the Belgian practice noAarchitecten. She teaches at TU Delft and Hasselt University.
Recent realisations of noAa include the Faculty of Law for Hasselt University (nominated for the Mies van der Rohe Award 2015), the extension of the Museum Plantin Moretus in Antwerp and a state-of-the-art laboratory for Hasselt. noAa recently won a competition for a large housing development on the Tour & Taxis site in Brussels in collaboration with AWG from Antwerp en Sergison Bates architects from London.