In 1636 Peter Paul Rubens made a painting on three oak planks from his studio. A city on the horizon is surrounded by a garden, then flanked by his residence — the castle of Elewijt.

Taking the genesis of Rubens’ A View of Het Steen in the Early Morning as a starting point, 019, in collaboration with ConstructLab, H110 and Guy Mouton, creates FLORA, an architectural intervention on the grounds surrounding the castle of Elewijt. In the summer of 2023, this intervention will serve to open up the site to tourists.

The site in Elewijt is a complex fabric of narratives and traces. From Rubens’ famous painting A View of Het Steen in the Early Morning, to the extensively documented architectural history of the castle. The domain of the ‘Rubens Castle’ cannot be disconnected from its context: the ribbon development and the park meet at the castle wall, the water level of the pond and the vegetation bear witness to a changing ecological reality, there is a connection with the nearby neighbourhood, and the fluctuating tourism influences the landscape and atmosphere of the place.

This collection of stories offers opportunities and challenges: how can this heritage site be opened up and provide space for both history and the traces created by current users, and provide a literal and figurative foundation for future, as yet untapped approaches? How can the existing architecture and its history enter into a dialogue with changing sensibilities, thus creating space for a sustainable touristic development?

FLORA explores the possibilities of working circularly and dynamically. It is constructed from formwork material, which usually serves to temporarily support a structure. Here, however, that material functions as the supporting structure itself. When the pavilion disappears, the formwork material is made available again for other projects. With this material, 019 creates an enclosed space in which various events will take place. At the same time, the pavilion frames the landscape and the castle by offering unusual perspectives. A series of flags plays on the depth of the landscape, draws imaginary lines, and creates atmospheric perspective.

Flora was commissioned by Stories Unfold; a unique, participatory and experimental event by EventFlanders in collaboration with Tourism Flanders, which will take place biannually, each time on a different domain in Flanders.