Discover Benelux, Issue 30, June 2016

Page 11

Discover Benelux | Design | Top Belgian Architecture and Design Guide

Wowing the world TEXT: FRANK VAN LIESHOUT | PHOTOS: UAU COLLECTIV

Three renowned Belgian architects have teamed up to take the next step in their careers. Under their new name UAU Collectiv, their mission is to wow the world. “UAU is how Romance language speakers often spell WOW,” Frederik Vaes explains. Vaes formed UAU Collectiv together with architects Massimo Pignanelli and Joris Diliën and with Michel Janssens as general manager. “To us, UAU is more than just a play on words though. UAU stands for ‘world of wonders’, the kind of wonder which is not just short-lived astonishment but an enduring fascination. It’s the kind of wonder we would like to inspire with our architecture. A positive vibe reflecting the optimism of the modernist era.” Each of the three architect partners had their own successful businesses before

they entered this new phase in their careers. Having worked across Belgium as well as abroad in cities such as London, New York and Berlin, their varied backgrounds range from public housing to high-end residential and large-scale retail projects. Yet what made them decide to bundle their talents was a shared view on the future role of architecture in these rapidly changing times. “We see architecture as a tool to restructure modern society. All our efforts need to be based on collaboration - amongst each other and with the whole of the wider creative economy.” The new collective’s 20 creators will take on a broad range of projects in public and private architecture, interior design and installations as well as master and city planning projects. “Where do people want to live, shop, spend their leisure time – these are the basic questions architects

need to address,” Vaes explains. “We firmly believe that the modern architect needs to concentrate on his central role in the design process, on being a creative force of innovation.” One of the collective’s reference projects is Vaes’ redesign of Berlin’s Bikinihaus, a dilapidated mall on Kurfürstendamm which was transformed into an attractive, modern shopping and leisure hub. “That design was based on our belief that we need to create buildings which are open to interpretation by the users, like a novel is interpreted by its readers,” Vaes continues. “Because no matter whether you’re building a house, a hotel or a shopping mall, if the basic design is good, the building will thrive.”

www.uaucollectiv.com Issue 30 | June 2016 | 11