Chair's Medal for Architecture 2023

Quarrying the Ruinscape… To bring the Palais to Justice

In 2022 humanity consumed a year’s supply of the earth’s natural resources by the 28th of July. This unsustainable rate of consumption combined with the rise of virtual interfacing following covid- has society caught in a vicious parallel between finite resources, rising construction costs and redundant buildings- this has the eventuality of ruination.

Drawing from Kengo Kuma’s essay on the Anti-Object alongside the concept of ‘Ruin-Lust’ as captured in the etchings of Piranesi, this thesis has the intent of investigating the potential to reignite a global circular economy, by setting up a framework to identify redundant buildings as pre-emptive ruins to be quarried and recirculated.

The ‘Palais de Justice’ in Brussels was once the worlds largest lawcourt but is now crumbling and falling to redundancy, on top of this, its problematic history allows it to fit the parameters for ruination. By quarrying its spolia for district ownership, the process not only addresses the climate crisis but also dismantles the oppressive shadow the Palais casts over the Marolles District. It transitions a vertical power structure that condemns to a horizontal one that provides.

By pairing 5 District gap sites with the 5 key materials to be dismantled, a network of circular workshops would be established providing the impetus usage for the Palais’ spolia. These workshops would remain in place following the exhaustion of its quarrying to support a re-alignment to circular practices. This thesis has a focus on the stone workshop to test a set of rules that could be applied to the subsequent sites- constructing in a way that displays secondary material to its maximum potential. The remaining spolia would be dismantled and debated for at the ‘Ruinscape’ before being transported by a funicular railway into the district to be work-shopped and re-purposed.

The resultant ruinscape as Kuma’s ultimate ‘anti object’ and a district owned amenity would serve to continue the circular momentum by functioning as a site for debating what morally justifies the future use of our planet’s finite material.

1:250 Triptych Model

Palais de Justice (Ruinscape) : The Stone Workshop : Place du Jeu de Balle

Marolles District Birds-Eye View

Stage Three of Quarrying the Ruinscape

The Palais de Justice : Rue des Minimes Elevation

Architectural Looting + Evidence of Machiavellianism

Site Location and Historic Development

Social Injustice, Redundancy, Oppression vs Expresion

Stills of 1960s ‘Battle of the Marolles’ against proposed Palais Extension + Virtual Lawcourt Preference Statistics (left) The Palais de Justice vs The Jeu de Balle : Oppression vs Expression (right)


Conceptual Image Inspired by the techniques used by Piranesi in his etchings to evoke a sense of 'Ruin-Lust'

Concept Model 1:2000

Quarrying the Ruinscape

Reel: Phases of Quarrying

Reel: Re-Masterplan the Ruinscape

The Military Court : Existing

Plan and Section

The Military Court: The Quarry

Plan and Section

The Military Court: The Ruin/Debate-Scape

Plan and Section : ampitheatre layout opposes existing linearity of the court

The Ruin/Debate-Scape

The Court Repurposed to Debate the Future use of Finite Material

The Ruinscape Toolkit

‘Quarrying the Ruinscape’ is not a designed process so any intervention proposed needs to be adaptable to the resultant remains. (Hence the differing solution shown in plan / section). The secondary timber intervention is a tool kit rather that a proposal which aligns with the circularity, it is fully demountable and utilises the principles of self building for holistic district ownership and control of the unlocked landscape. Integrated material transportation should encourage district wide material reuse. The layering of forms- temporary intervention vs more permanent ruin-scape links back to the techniques used by Piranesi to evoke a sense of Ruin-Lust- in this context the ruin lust should serve to remind the observer of the circular processes which created the landscape they stand within.

1:250 Ruinscape Model

Quantify + Allocate

Five sites have been selected from the Marolles District development plan that have the potential to be strengthened. Each site has been allocated a material to be dismantled after analysing the area of each site compared to volume of each material contained at the Palais and aligning the two respectively. As an exception to this rule for allocation- the Stone Workshop has been assigned the largest site -despite being the second most abundant material- This is because it becomes a focal point being the primary material visually associated with the palais and the first material to be dismantled (being facing material). It was therefore important to allocate this significant material the central most site with the closest proximity the Jeu de Balle flea market to enable maximum public engagement with the process from the beginning stages of redeployment

Ruinscape + Circular Workshop Network

Chain Reaction Deployment

The material assigned to each workshop becomes the material that homogeneously constructs and is work-shopped within that site. These workshops facilitate the workshopping of Palais material whilst remaining to support a future circular economy. They have the intent of inspiring district initiated projects through exemplifying the variety of construction potential with reclaimed material. The workshops are constructed in a ‘chain reaction’ that responds to the order materials are released from the ruinscape. Each site is catalysed by the release of timber which is readily available at each phase of deconstruction due to its function as the internal lining of the courts. This incorporation of hybrid timber structures allows each of the remaining materials to be exemplified within the sites to their maximum potential. These structures comply to principles of self building for district involvement before specialists would take over to apply the stone.

The Stone Workshop from the Jeu de Balle

Spolia at the Human Scale

Spolia Harvesting : Make the Inaccessible, Accessible

The treatment of stone spolia throughout the stone workshop is informed by a ‘spolia’ datum line- this is taken from the height of the ground floor shops at the edge of the Jeu de Balle as a section district citizens would be in most direct contact with. Below this line spolia stacking on metal rods, forms the heavy weight uninsulated ground floor walls as museum pieces in their own right. to rationalise the facade spolia and link it more directly back to its original placement in the Palais- I analysed the repeating Rue des Minimes bay and extracted its spolia flipping it so the highest held pieces sit at the lowest level to make the inaccessible accessible. Again, reiterating a transition from the vertical to the horizontal.

Rue Blaes Elevation

Rue des Renards Elevation

The Stone Workshop : Ground Floor Plan

Existing key hole entrances define material entrance and exit axes through the site and divides the plan into the courtyard 'botteghe', axial 'studiolo' and public engagement 'forum'. Thick inhabited walls are used throughout the proposal to hold services and circulation routes, these allow the weight and strength of stone as a structural material to be emphasised.

Exploded Axonometric

Stone constructed pavilions with stockpile roof forms anchor the corners of the plan. The repetition of these aid intuitive way-finding and are used as more open spaces to gather at ground floor and become more quiet at the upper floor occupying reading rooms seminar space and drafting studios which are interconnected by raised walkways allowing members of the public to passively observe the circular workshopping.

Botteghe vs Studiolo

The Botteghe Courtyard

The Studiolo

Section B-B

Detailed Section C-C

The Salon

Multi-functioning Space : Exchanging Ideas and Knowledge Aligned to Circularity

Particalising the Stone using Light

Just as Kengo Kuma utilised the acoustic properties of stone combined with wind to particalise the stone and synthesise it with nature in his ‘Stone Museum’ so too have I attempted to particalise the stone in the circular workshop utilising light which also connects the proposal to its environment. At the ground floor the compacted spolia lets in small amounts of light with the focus on the heavy stone detailing. Moving up the structure the application becomes more light weight through panels that taper into screens at the top level where natural light is increasingly introduced as a way of ‘particlising the stone’. The majority of the roofs are top lit continuing this hierarchy of weight to into their construction. The screens used at upper levels vary in aperture and can be used to distinguish the programmes of the 4 anchoring stone pavilions- with selected aperture gradient tailored to their requirements.

The Spolia Gallery

Covered Pocket Square Extends the Jeu de Balle

Exploded Structural Bay

Assembly Details for Reclaimed Spolia

1:50 Tectonic Model + 1:100 Facade Model

These two models work together to summarise the structural intention for the remainder of the scheme, they show the catalyst structures with self build joints for initial district involvement. They also highlight the corner pavilions with inhabitable piers and then indicate how the secondary and tertiary stone would be applied to the primary structural frame

District Low Level Repairs

With the spolia reclaimed by the district a circular economy commences as they begin to use it to repair and re-develop the existing urban fabric of the Marolles. The story of the Palais de Justice with its tainted past is therefore not wiped out- out of respect for those its creation impacted. It instead rightfully lives on in the hands of the Marolles citizens to allow them ultimate control of the material that was once forced upon them alongside control of a landscape that was swallowed up for 150 years by the oppressive shadow of Leopold II’s Palais de Justice.

Applying the Facade Toolkit to the Remaining Circular Workshops...