Studio MOTO and Hans Op de Beeck clad a villa in rubber

Studio MOTO and Hans Op de Beeck clad a villa in rubber

Designed by Erik Van Biervliet in the 1960s, the Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens is one of the most stylish private art establishments in Belgium, with a treasure trove of a collection to match. Now, a new project by artist Hans Op de Beeck, in collaboration with architect Mo Vandenberghe of Studio MOTO, has been added to the grounds. The building has been clad in black rubber in a bold intervention that converts the villa from architecture to object in the landscape.

The Wunderkammer residence transforms the existing 1930s Villa Meander on the estate into a Gesamtkunstwerk to house the museum’s library, including the personal book collection of Belgian curator Jan Hoet (1936-2014). Hoet was a curator and avid book collector (there are roughly 4600 books in the idiosyncratic and personal collection), who played a strategic role in the emergence of contemporary art in Belgium. The Wunderkammer residence is a new part of the Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens policy that seeks to make 20th century private art collections with links to Flanders accessible to the public.

Studio Moto, Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens interior, photography by Tim Van de Velde
‘As soon as you shut the door behind you, you are completely absorbed into a different, surreal world. It’s a monochrome, mysterious universe that I tried to capture in my images,’ says photographer Tim Van de Velde

‘The black casing creates an abstract version of the original, almost kitschy, cottage-style villa, transforming it into a sculptural, monumental art piece in the idyllic Leie landscape,’ says Op de Beeck. The monochrome MDF interior follows the same approach and provides the perfect backdrop for an immersive experience, especially orchestrated to spark dialogue and discovery.

The interior has been staged as a fictional ‘wunderkammer’ and painted dark grey to create an introspective atmosphere. It echoes the dense exterior treatment of the building in its cinematic theatricality, submerging visitors in a mysterious and imaginative plot. Sculptural forms of still lifes, nudes and archtectural models can be found between floor-to-ceiling book-filled shelves.

The EPDM rubber-clad structure will also host artists, curators, researchers and writers as part of a residency programme organised by the museum. This is now the museum’s second residency location – in 2015, the Dhondt-Dhaenens launched the Van Wassenhove residence, located architect Juliaan Lampens’ Brutalist building from 1974 in Sint-Martens-Latem. The residency programme reflects the museum’s interest in creating spaces for individuals to explore art within wider contexts. §

A version of this story was originally featured in the December 2018 issue of Wallpaper* (W*238)

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