< terug

Architectural Detail

The Architectural Detail: Technè = Poiesis?

ADO Prof.dr. Architect Jo Van Den Berghe and Dr. Architect Louise De Brabander
Academic year 2022-23, semester 2, Ghent

Research Theme

The central discourse of this ADO[1] revolves around this basic argument: a creation process in architecture all too automatically is considered as a unidirectional process that starts with the poetic image (π)[2], that subsequently is substantiated on the construction site.

π   ->   ©

The research of Jo Van Den Berghe (Van Den Berghe 2012, 2020) reveals that this assumed unidirectionality is false. The process of creation, which includes substantiation, is much more negotiated, two-directional. The poetic image (π) is often more triggered by construction practice (©).

π   <- ->   ©


Research Questions:

  • How can the architect’s mastery of Technè become the generator of Poiesis, as opposed but complementary to the common assumption that an architecture originates from a prior poetic image that only subsequently can be translated into the substance of the world?
  • How can an architect better operate within projects embedded in fragile locations like existing urban fabrics, architectural bodies, vulnerable landscapes and listed monuments as the inevitable locations for future generations of European architects, yet produce cultural contemporaneity through precise materialisation?
  • How can an architect deal with the ‘as found’ in the way as defined by Peter and Alison Smithson (1989)?



  • the architectural drawing (firstly hand made, then digital):
    • the (vertical) section (tomography), applied in experiential learning cycles (Kolb 1984) of Critical Sequential Drawing (CSD)(Van Den Berghe, Sanders, Luyten 2020)
    • the full scale architectural detail (scale 1/1)(embodied knowledge)
    • topographic section (embedded knowledge)
  • the architectural fragment (scale 1/10) as locus of investigation in which the architectural detail and the architectural whole encounter

Partners and Resources:

  • Queens’s University, Belfast: tandem studio with Studio Scaffolds of Prof. Michael McGarry
  • Ecole Fédérale Politecnique de Lausanne (EPFL): tandem studio with Studio Tomography of Prof. Jo Taillieu
  • Politecnico di Milano: prof. Gennaro Postiglione, visiting professor at KU Leuven Faculty of Architecture
  • KU Leuven Department of Architecture, Research group The Drawing and the Space (thedrawingandthespace.info)
  • Studio Anatomy: dr. Mira Sanders (studio-anatomy.org)
  • the TDC (Technical Documentation Centre of the faculty)
  • the repository of 32 years of architectural practice of JVDB (full scale drawings of architectural details, investigation processes of architectural details, …) and related architectural practices


  • Friedberg, A. (2006). The Virtual Window: from Alberti to Microsoft, the MIT Press, Cambridge MA, US.
  • Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development (Vol. 1). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  • Smithson, P. and A. (1989). The ‘as Found’ and the ‘Found’. Cambridge: MIT Press.
  • Van Den Berghe, J. (2012). Theatre of Operations, or: Construction Site as Architectural Design, Ph.D Dissertation, SmallBook 2, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 71-74.
  • Van Den Berhge, J., Sanders M. , Luyten, L. (2020): Windows into an Architecture of Thickness and Depth (Fenêtres sur une Architecture de l’Epaisseur en de la Profondeur). Musée des beaux-arts de Cambrai, Silvana Editoriale, Milano, pp.18-22.

[1] ADO: Academic Design Office. This is a pedagocical environment, developed at KU Leuven Faculty of Architecture, in which education, architectural practice and research in architecture cross fertilize and merge.

[2] The concept of the poetic image has been brought forward by Vitruvius, who called it the architectural idea, and following from this, Alberto Pérez-Gómez has further elaborated on it, “… the poetic image, called after Vitruvius the architectural idea (the images that are proposed by the architect, issuing from his or her mind’s eye” (Pérez-Gómez 2006).

Student’s Work 2019-2020

Master Projects by Aäron De Leeuw, Amy-Grace Grounsell, Bryana Evert, Elise Bonny, Ferre Vander Elst, Kenneth Van Herzele, Liselore Gerber, Marie Porrez, Marta Cardoso Moreira de Vascon, Pouya Hamedi, Sven Tassaert, Tanguy Boutchon, Vanda Vybohova, Viktorija Trajcheska and Vincent Adeyemo