Annamaria Prandi: The 13 projects displayed in the Belgian Pavilion show how skill is a widespread quality in Flanders. Are we facing a nouvelle vague?
Jan De Vylder: I wouldn’t speak of “vague”. The term “wave” reminds me of the wind, which comes and goes, whereas Flemish architecture isn’t at a higher point now than it was in the past. The thing is, at a certain point the spotlight was shone on our work. Of course, this is an honour and a pleasure for us, but one day that spotlight will be switched off. And when it does we’ll continue to do what we’re doing now and what we’ve always done. My hope for the work we’ve done here in Venice is that we’ll help to broaden the Flemish scene by inviting some as yet little-known names
Annamaria Prandi: Where are the roots of this skilled craftsmanship?
Jan De Vylder: I think the distinctive trait of Flemish architecture is its quality of being extremely close to humans and their needs. This makes it unique, even within the diversity of meanings that humans inevitably carry with them, and which are reflected in the work of the individual studios. It’s the link with people that generates both a great diversity and a certain recognisability. For us a building has always been a very personal instance.
Annamaria Prandi: What role do clients have in this scenario?
Jan De Vylder: Clients play a fundamental role. When you work for the public sector you deal with the Baumeister, highly trained professionals of great calibre and sensibility. But in general, even when working for private commissions, the architects feel they have the client by their side. This undoubtedly means architects can act with the freedom of being understood, and with the depth of a fruitful dialogue. Without the clients, Bravoure wouldn’t be possible.