Marc Alphonse Dessauvage

MArch I

Middle Ground: Between Monument and Fabric

Advised by Grace La 

This thesis reassesses our contemporary understanding of the distinction between monument and fabric to discover methods for intervening in historic cities. Antwerp, like many European cities, was faced with the consequences of urban exodus and economic expansion during the 1970s and 1980s, leading to extensive sprawl that left the core as a static center for commerce and tourism. Today, Antwerp has to contend with a housing crisis in the medieval center after a long focus on developments at the periphery. In response, the city is investing in cross-parceling strategies to create density as well as investing millions of euros each year on the restoration of its monuments. However, with these two contradictory desires—the preservation of monuments and the updating of medieval city fabric—there is no consensus or declarative strategy as to how these two ambitions are to be reconciled urbanistically. Looking to Sint-Jacobskerk, the thesis proposes a reconfiguration of the church and its surrounding interstitial fabric, reevaluating both the symbolic and programmatic status of the church in a changing city.

Blue and white paper cathedral