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Edwin Stolk ☰

The Black Plinth
July till August 2020

'The Black Plinth' was an assignment by Gouvernement in the light of the project Konnektor in Belgium. During this residency I focussed on the relationship that the people of Langerbrugge-Kerkbrugge had with the industrial heritage of the former powerplant of Langerbrugge. My findings are brought together in an imagination plan with the title 'Mission Dhuicque 2021'.

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 extended and obsolete power station ceased production in 2001. On January 1, 2010, steam production for the surrounding companies was stopped.

Today this former power plant is protected as a heritage site, but the current condition is very bad. In 2013, the architecture weblog Gentcement made an alarming appeal to treat this industrial heritage with respect.

The newly constructed coupling area Langerbrugge-Zuid was opened in 2019. It basically offers a green zone to cover up the industrial activities. The former power plant appears here as a poor maintained altarpiece in the background. It is 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 have read that the houses in the Herryville Garden District were built with a black plinth. This garden district was also designed by Dhuicque and realized in 1927 for the management and executives of the power plant. This living area was named after the director Leopold Herry.

A plinth is a frame mounted at floor level against a wall and forms the transition between the ground on which it stands and the built structure. It has 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 Mission Dhuicque. The rest of his life he fought for the proper management and maintanance of our heritage sites. Where today a complex diversity of interests is threatening the former power plant, it seems about time for a new 'Mission Dhuicque'.

During my residency I tried to speak to as many people as possible who felt somehow connected to the power plant in Langerbrugge. With this information I have created a new imagination plan entitled 'Mission Dhuicque 2021'. With this plan I want to initiate a dialogue and make the complexity of the re-use of this particular heritage tangible, perceptible and discussable.

On Instagram you can find the images of my research with the hashtag #dezwarteplint.

'The black plinth' is possible by the generous support of Gouvernement in the context of Konnektor and follows the concept of #theorganisation.

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Best regards, Edwin Stolk.

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