A space of the encounter, with yourself, the ruin, death, hope. Architecture beyond the material. The feeling is central. Personal experiences were the kickoff of the interventions on the site. Through these interventions, we create moments. This is translated into a personal story, creating, through another medium, an image of what the space that appears to someone might be during his encounter. Imagination is important here.
A story takes you along into a design of an imaginary necropolis in the existing site of the ruin in Villers-La-Ville (Belgium).
La Rencontre – story:
Before me on the ground is a neatly outlined rectangle of small stones. Moments ago, I passed a large pile of a similar amount. Now I am in the porch of the church. I have been in this place before, but then I was a few meters below the ground. I got in through the side of the church where a low wall led me to the crypt.
The relief went down very steeply. Before me was a small opening. Cautiously I descended and entered a dark corridor. It was swampy in there and with every step my shoes sank softly into the ground. I sank deeper and deeper. Very slowly I went on, because of every step I took, I was aware. I realized what was coming and felt overwhelmed. The woman I had had to let go, for whom I went through an overpowering sadness, she was there somewhere. I had been close to her, I could feel that, even if I had not seen her. It was so dark that I could barely see the walls around me. Everything was black and I was part of the dark as it were.
I could not perceive myself anymore, as if I was not there anymore, I felt lost in the space. I wanted to get out of there before the horror would take a hold of me. I kept slogging on and saw a small beam of light penetrating the walls.
A stairway, a path leading upwards, back to the outside.
I wandered through the ruin and saw the front of the church. Two large towers that were mostly dilapidated tried to measure up with the large steep wall next to them. The wall formed the landscape. It offered me protection. I was in a valley, a place of silence and seclusion, enclosed between hills, surrounded by a wall of stone. I followed the path, towards the central entrance of the church. The path that stretched further into the church was lost. There was a cavity of only half a meter deep revealing some of the crypt’s stones.
A few stone vaults separated me from the horror. It seemed so close again. There I was, not sure whether to go left or right. I chose left and ended up at the first rectangular pile of stones. I hesitated a while, but then took a big step over the stones. My seconds of hesitation created a space.
Now I am here in the porch, for twelve minutes already, sitting on the edge of the window. I decide to get up. Before me on the ground is a second neatly outlined rectangular pile of small stones. A new space presents itself as it were.
The space given to me, however, seems to be dead. The ruin is crumbling and crumbling.
The cavity stretches on and appears to be a crack in the landscape that runs parallel to the steep wall. It indicates the direction I must go and forms an axis, the backbone through the church.
Along this continuous line, a sort of rhythm arises that is formed by the dying columns. Along with the rhythm of the columns I continue my way. I come at a place where three long rows of stones protrude above the ground. I stop there for a moment, overlooking the fault line, which gradually became deeper. I lean forward and look into the depth. It is dark there, I cannot see the end of it. It seems as if a second steep wall is in the ground, full of stones. Would there be another place upon which this site is built deep down there? The fault line creates a boundary, a sort of demarcation where I cannot be.
I continue my way to the apse of the church. There is a mirror a few meters above the ground. The high space of the church is suddenly reduced to a few meters high and if I look into it, I see myself, the ground on which I stand and the deep crack.
Two grounds, underneath and above me, enclose me. The high space, that is above me, with the light of the rising sun makes room for a reflection of the dark cavity beneath me. I seem to be caught in the dark, dark in the middle of the valley.