Flemish architects Paul Robbrecht and Hilde Daem of Robbrecht en Daem Architecten have a poetic approach to buildings. Embracing the intimate and the modest, their projects are defined by natural materials and simplicity of colour. Sudden openings onto exhilarating views act as flowing, ephemeral presences which guide visitors through the spaces they create.
Describing architecture as ‘a vehicle for understanding the world; an observatory’, their projects range from high profile public buildings such as Bruges Concert Hall and the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum extension in Rotterdam, to a woodland cabin, a zoo and a bird observation tower. Collaborations with artists have created subtle interplays between art and architecture, while their sensitive renovations reveal a sophisticated engagement with history in projects including Antwerp City Archives and the Whitechapel Gallery’s recent expansion.
Their first UK exhibition looks at key projects from the 1980s to today, with watercolours, plans and photographs relating to each project. Kristien Daem’s extensive photographs and a series of six films directed by cinematographer Maarten Vanden Abeele provide extraordinary portraits of the key projects. A special gallery dedicated to collaborations with artists, brings together works by Dirk Braeckman, René Daniëls, Raoul De Keyser, Isa Genzken, Cristina Iglesias, Juan Muñoz, Gerhard Richter, Philippe Van Isacker, Didier Vermeiren and Franz West.