The Devil Castle

The Devil Castle is a 13th century gothic architecture building in Ghent, Belgium. It served as defense of the Portus Ganda, the city’s port. Over the course of centuries it was used for various functions; gatherings of knights, as an armory, a monastery, a school, the seminary for the diocese of Ghent, an insane asylum and a prison. The last few years the Castle has been empty, and under new care a new public-serving purpose is being prepared. Under the name of ‘BROEI’  a new biotope of users will nest themselves in the castle the coming year(s).

Like astronauts being shot into space, ConstructLab entered the medieval Geeraard the Devil Castle as a strange area to be discovered whose potential we collectively explored. Constructlab initiated modular pioneering structures that make it possible for youth organisations to develop themselves in this formerly cold inhospitable medieval environment.

The issue of transforming the historical Devil Castle into a temporary work and exhibition place for young organisations first raised a different question for ConstructLab. How to conceive temporary structures that harbor and foster collective actions without losing human or material energy if the program has to be (re)moved? ConstructLab wants to investigate how to eliminate the link between temporary infill and the single-use of wood. To this end, we developed a simple yet effective Connector piece that combines the versatility of scaffolding connections with affordable wood sections.

The Connector was drawn, cut and then ‘mass-produced’ from stainless steel sheets. We chose SLS wood (the Scandinavian Lumber Standard) which is a widely available construction wood produced from fast-growing sustainable pine. One of those Connectors is capable of connecting three SLS beams in three directions, as well as attaching additional materials to the structure (textiles, ropes, …). A manual is currently being developed to showcase the different interactions with the Connector. Inventing and building something new, adding/modifying a structure built by ConstructLab or to easily moving structures to a new location… The aim is to stimulate the act of building as a liberating tool in the rather harsh landscape of temporary occupations.