An Architecture of Emotion, Antwerp

An Architecture of Emotion acts as a critical reappraisal of the value and necessity of both collective and solitary emotional space within the city, proposing an urban composition that innately expresses a revised typology - a synthesis of individual parts - initiating a conversation regarding the future of emotion, contemplation and memory within the contemporary city.

Modern life offers conditions and ideals that are far greater and more liberating than those which our ancestors had lived under for the entirety of human history. Yet, these freedoms have created a new set of challenges placed upon humanity - physiological and emotional afflictions generated for us by secular life. These unattainable ideals that were once satisfied or countered by one’s belief in religious order are now without antidote. Within an increasingly secular society, that offers few spaces in which our emotional needs are cared for or resolved, the geography of emotional space must be rethought and reconsidered.

Seven scattered chapels form a constellation at the heart of the existing block, fed into by four gardens, unique in character, and screened from the street by a series of modest gatehouses that address the immediate context of the block. Each chapel serves to offer a space in which one may seek comfort, solace or celebration: spaces that aim not at a practical or prescriptive purpose but in atmosphere, scale and material expression elicit and sustain an emotional and spiritual need - a place of quietness within the city, in which people can feel, contemplate and grieve.

The largest chapel, dependence, acts as the nucleus of the site, providing an architectural and programmatic centre to the project. It’s constituent parts, housed within great volumes of earth, serve a more definitive purpose, providing a washroom and kitchen for use prior to participating in a collective meal that the building is designed to support. The architectural presence is raw, constructed of earth, concrete and stone softened only by the landscape of the gardens that surround it.

The paths that run through each of the gardens are indirect and meandering, intended to encourage slowness and interaction with the landscape that acts as a bridge between the city and the chapels, tempering the experience, instilling within a silence and reverence.