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The Black Plinth
July till August 2020
'The Black Plinth' is the title of an artistic investigation into the relationship of people in Langerbrugge-Kerkbrugge in Belgium with the industrial heritage of the former Centrales Electriques des Flandres and assignment by Gouvernement.
In 1911 Baron Floris Van Loo had built the first power plant in Langerbrugge. The Langerbrugge power station was designed by Eugène Dhuicque and completed in July 1914. The obsolete power station ceased production in 2001. On January 1, 2010, steam production for the surrounding companies was stopped. Today it is a protected heritage site, but the building appears desolate. In 2013, the architecture weblog Gentcement made an alarming appeal to treat this industrial heritage with respect.
The newly constructed coupling area Langerbrugge-Zuid (2019) confirms the breach between past and present. Only when two parts are divided an artificial coupling is necessary. The former power plant appears as a poor maintained altarpiece in the background as if the presence of this architecture wants to confirm the irreversible consequences of time and its impermanence.
On the website of the Agency for Heritage I read that the houses in the Herryville Garden District were built with a black plinth. This garden district was realized in 1927 for the management and executives of the power plant and named after the director Leopold Herry. A plinth is a frame mounted at floor level against a wall, which forms the transition between the ground on which it stands and the built structure with a protective function. In my research 'The Black Plinth' is a metaphor and focuses on the transition of this heritage site and its relation with the people who live on the same ground in Langerbrugge-Kerkbrugge.
When the First World War ended up in a war of positions in West Flanders, no historic building in the front zone was safe. The Belgian government then organized a rescue operation and placed architect-photographer Eugène Dhuicque at the head of a mission to bring the endangered heritage to safety, also called the Mission Dhuicque. Where today other interests are threatening the former power plant it seems time for a new "Mission Dhuicque" in which we try to map out the status of this heritage site.
This writing is therefore a warm invitation to anyone who somehow feels connected to the power plant in Langerbrugge. Please be so kind to share your stories with me. With this information I want to develop a project proposal that must be able to investigate the deeper significance of the former Centrales Electriques des Flandres.
'The Black Plinth' is possible by the generous support of Gouvernement and follows the concept of #theorganisation.
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Best regards, Edwin Stolk.