The ‘Platonic Panels’ were invented to accommodate the dynamic and mixed-uses of contemporary urban life. First built for the Mixed-use market (Abattoir Foodmet) in Brussels (construction complete June 2015), the spatial enclosure system, has been displayed in numerous exhibitions internationally including: Media Lab, MIT, Cambridge (2011), Art Institute of Chicago (2014-2015), and the Main Pavilion exhibition at the Venice Biennale (2016). The Platonic panels combine to create a contemporary urban warehouse – a building that has a clear urban form, but no predefined content. The panels form over-dimensioned porticos, dozens of large identical rooms that can accommodate almost any use. Like Kazimir Malevich’s ‘White on White’, the defined spaces reflect the self-identity and pluralism of its inhabitants. The components that make up the structural system are called “Platonic Panels”. The panels are flat abstract planes with cut-outs that join together to define porticoes, or flexible use zones. These spatial assemblages and environments fit together to create an array of sizes and shapes. The panels are generously dimensioned to assert the abstract plane as a strong definition of space, and/ or allow air space to be infilled with mezzanine floors. The panels can be stacked vertically to further increase functional possibility and building area. The panels are made from reinforced “industrial” concrete using steel formwork, not wood. The panels were prefabricated, cast flat inside a factory workshop. Each panel consists of columns and beams. At the exterior facade, the panels consist of a structural load-bearing panel (interior side), and a ‘facade’ panel (exterior side). There is 8cm of insulation and 2 cm of empty space between the panels. The ‘rough’ surface - the side of the panel open to the air during casting - is always positioned facing the inner wall, and is thus never visible. The visible surfaces are properly finished. The interior panels, at the courtyards and main market corridors, are simple single panels. As a result, all four cast surfaces are visible, and thus to finish properly, one side was polished by hand.
2009 — 2016
Alexander D’Hooghe, Natalie Seys, Luk Peeters, Wim François, Kobi Ruthenberg, Griet Kuppens, Raf De Preter, Chang Liu