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Luc Schuiten Has a Heart for Nature

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The name Schuiten has been mostly known in comics circles for the intricate stylings of François Schuiten. His architectural and precise artwork has made him a household name in international comics circles - especially with Les Cités Obscures - but judging the family Schuiten on just the one brother would be a grave disservice to Luc Schuiten, an architect having earned for himself  international fame due to his ecological stance on the harmony between man made objects and nature itself.

Luc Schuiten debuted in 1976 as an architect with the Orejona-house: the first truly ecological house in Belgium where survival was possible even after the depletion of the oil or coal reserves. It represented a true bio-habitat before the world was even concerned about the ozone layer and the greenhouse effect. It was the start of a philosophy permeating his design skills that he still accepts as dogma in everything he does:

Nature has perfected itself in the course of millions of years. It constantly delivers durable solutions, does not leave any waste behind en produces it all with local materials.

He has created a name for this practical and philosophical way of life: archiborescence. Architecture that utilizes living material. Even more impressive, he form his own one man team serving as historian, biologist, architect and technician. Since his design sense is more than just beautiful lines on paper but supports a whole viewpoint of looking at and living in the world, he wants his designs to reach as broad an audience as possible. His drawings is his way of speaking to a general audience, using comics he is able to enter his imagination, the imagination of others and thereby stepping into the world and spreading his ideas beyond the world of architecture and building sites.

Luc Schuiten wants to merge culture and nature together in one design. There is no need for a split as is traditionally the norm in civilization. In his mind, cities become a cultural beacon that is one with nature. His latest project Vegetal City (site also in english) is now on show in Brussels, Belgium and consists of drawings of a row of fifteen houses, transformed into an ocean of green wealth.  He starts from a map of the city of the 1800’s and progresses into the year 2200, ever transforming the city more and more. He is firmly aware of the limitations of his designs in the real world but according to him, even if they can not be realised in the real world, at the least people will learn something from his ideas and a seed has been planted in their minds. Luc Schuiten is a true visionary for the new age, and he was already working on it in the previous one.

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Vegetal City by Luc Schuiten is a 144 pages artbook and costs € 29. It is published by Mardaga.

Source: newspaper Standaard, weekend edition of  4 and 5th of April, section Expo.

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