Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We use cookies to personalise your experience; learn more in our Privacy and Cookie Policy. You can opt out of some cookies by adjusting your browser settings; see the cookie policy for details. By using this site, you agree to our use of cookies.

There is no failure, there is only chance

Concrete imperfection highlighted in red, Ledeberg town hall

Observations on life and architecture from the equanimous and creative Jan de Vylder

There is no failure. There is only chance.
Things that have seemingly nothing to do with each other all of a sudden have something to do with each other*
Sometimes doing something poetic can become political and sometimes doing something political can become poetic**

*Jan de Vylder / de Vylder Vinck Taillieu
**Francis Alÿs

Horst Festival pavilion

Horst Festival pavilion

Source: Filip Dujardin

‘That it does not look good makes it look good’, Jan de Vylder says of the pavilion designed in 2017 by de Vylder Vinck Taillieu for the Horst Festival in Holsbeck

When the formwork was dismantled, all of a sudden ugly spots appeared. The cement mill found its way between formwork and panel. Painting this error red made this error special. It was no longer an error. It was something else. It became a leitmotif. Any other errors were touched by that red change.
It might have felt like an act of poetry. It was. But at the same time it was more. As the commissioner longed to replace that piece of concrete, and the contractor was about to refuse, and there were long debates and running costs were increasing, this simple act of painting red overcame it all. Just surprise. Smile. Simple.

(A gentle observation of a daily commuter)
The project for the renewal of the main station of the city of Ghent ran out of money. Only four tracks out of the 12 tracks had been realised. The beautiful old station is looking to its future. But it is not longing for that future. And now that future seems to be unclear. Unclear what it should be. Or could become.
Maybe it is only at first glance a mess. An impossible and unorganised mess. But then, after waiting for the next train, all of a sudden it appears in another way. Maybe it is a chance for change. Constructing a new language to connect the old and the new. Restore the old as it was and accept the new as it is. But it takes a change to stitch it together.

In the end, the collaboration was cut short. Although the project had a totally unexpected outcome (the realisation of 11 houses instead of 11 apartments), was celebrated by the city (for the respect for its historical context) and the developer (stimulating a stronger economy than ever), by the time the project began to be realised, ideas started to differ so much that the collaboration was halted. It was said that other investment projects had to be built first.
One day we coincidentally found out that the project had been built. Though we had never been contacted again. People had already moved in. We found it was back on the webpage of the developer. Of course, at first, we were surprised that something like this could ever happen. And after leaning back, we were surprised a second time. Because in the end – no, it was not exactly our idea – but it was not too bad at all. Even quite good. Things are what they are. And even then, they are not too bad.

This piece is featured in the AR February 2019 issue on Failure – click here to purchase your copy today