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Bas Smets: His architectural philosophy of the Brussels landscape

If Bas Smets were only a famous name, it would obscure his uncommon passion combining architecture with nature. Under his singular design work, he redraws the various landscapes by giving them a touch of his own intelligence, emanating from a personalised point of view. The urban landscape becomes, from his perspective, a resilient whole where life is good.

At only eighteen, philosophy and mathematics were his most favoured subjects. His professional career, however, began as a confirmed choice as an architect. Yet far from conventional urbanism, he managed to develop a style that is his own: one which is more artful than it is technical. He is interested in the elements that make use of all the richness available in nature: stones, plants, water, sun and so on... He is well known for the Tower and Taxis Park as well as for his updated versions of the forecourt of Saint-Gilles and the Saint-Lazare Boulevard. Having already made his name in Belgium, he then went on to aim at the international scene. In this, he recreated the surroundings of the Perelman Art Centre in New York and also transformed the foot of Frank Gehry's building in Arles. Among the Arab countries where he made his mark were Bahrain and Bilan. And the list is long…

Parking in Kortrijk

Despite the large number of projects to which he devoted himself, Smets paid particular attention to 'Parking in Kortrijk'. The project involved a desire to create 200 parking bays. In the centre, he imagined a large park with all of its charms that would cost only two euros per unit. He also made sure that he was able to hide the cars away. His goal was to reconcile two diametrically opposed elements: a car park and a natural landscape. For him, this is where all the genius resides: forming a perfect alliance that resolves the most irreconcilable of dichotomies!

Bas Smets categorically refused to be called 'landscaper'. He is, in fact, a landscape architect according to his own definition. He proudly recounted his artistic journey in the Tower and Taxis Park in December: all the pieces of the puzzle that led to this work of art, created on the occasion of the seventieth anniversary of human rights. To pay tribute to the missing of March 22, he planted 32 trees in the heart of the Sonian Forest: a telling way to breathe new life into Céline Fremault's project.

To summarise his artistic project, Bas Smets declared that his goal, far from being mimesis, tries to offer reflection and make people think. In his vision, the landscape architect's mission is to transform, sublimate and reinvent nature by tapping into its strong points as the climatic upheavals that threaten cities continue. Speaking of Brussels, he explains how this city ought to be based between the two geological and meteorological layers. He already has a sketch in his office that illustrates this architectural and natural dissonance, something that bio-spherical urbanism should offer a solution to with respect to both. And that's just about it all.

One more thing: Bas Smets is not lacking in the way he shows off his best philosophical side. Besides, he reads a lot when he's on a plane. Thus, 'To design landscape is to make philosophy; to shape our way of life on a living planet is a truly philosophical question.'

To find out more, visit: http://www.bassmets.be/

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