The point of departure for the exhibition Incomplete Works is the question of whether we must always think of buildings as something to be completed. Can we conceive of architectural projects not merely as static objects but as perpetual construction sites, forever unfinished, always in the process of becoming? As Bruno Latour writes, “the problem is that when we picture a building, it is always as a fixed, stolid structure.” In a climate of accelerating instability like ours today, architecture, burdened with the responsibility of its ostensible permanence, all too often seeks refuge in simplistic concepts like permanence, ephemerality or flexibility. Incomplete Works are the solid, obtuse objects that buildings inevitably are, yet remain open to transformation, whether expected or unexpected.
In this exhibition, BAUKUNST examines two recent projects with fundamentally different programs, contexts, and ambitions in terms of their potential to negotiate issues of phasing, obsolescence, memory, reuse, and pre-use. One is the redevelopment of the residual volumes of La Defense: sunken concrete islands jammed between subterranean highways and railway tracks. The other is an incineration plant on the outskirts of Zurich planned for a hundred-year timespan despite its ever-changing agglomeration of machines. Both projects introduce multiple temporalities, which they simultaneously produce and consume. Attempting to do away with the hereditary habit of eliminating time from space, the exhibition investigates the construction of construction.
The scenography translates this theme into an installation of construction site elements such as formwork and lighting to restructure the gallery space. Two models and a video essay juxtapose the two projects, exploring their similarities and differences. Visualizations, plans, collages, references, quotes, and descriptions elucidate the relations between the conception of a project and its relation to time.
BAUKUNST was founded by Adrien Verschuere in Brussels in 2010. Combining art and technology, dialoguing, and interplaying various forms of knowledge, BAUKUNST explores architecture as a medium to both think about building (BAU) and build ways of thinking (KUNST). Key projects include La Fraineuse, a polyvalent sports center (Spa, 2017); Frame, a building for offices and television studios (Brussels, 2018–ongoing); and the redevelopment of the residual volumes of La Defense (Paris, 2019–ongoing). The work of BAUKUNST has been presented in solo exhibitions at Bozar, Brussels (2019); Solo Galerie, Paris (2020); and Trienal de Arquitectura, Lisbon (2022). Since 2019, Adrien Verschuere has been a visiting professor at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland.
Incomplete Works is part of a series originating from the exhibition Performance & Performativity, shown at the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels; Baukunst, shown at Solo Galerie in Paris; and Tendency & Fact, shown at Carpintarias de São Lázaro in Lisbon. The series was initiated by Wallonia Brussels Architectures in collaboration with the Architecture cell of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation. Incomplete Works is co-produced by A+ Architecture in Belgium, BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts Brussels, and coordinated by Architecture Curating Practice.