The increasing simplification of architecture has always been an obstacle to me. Consequently I have always wanted to make a statement against minimalism and its lazy streamlined character. Therefore I went looking into the presence of detail in architecture in a very meticulous and narrow-minded way. The researches I have conducted − and the philosophers encountered in the process − lead me towards the concept of "alienation" of and in architecture, with detail as the means to obtain this alienation. Jacques Derrida a French literary critic and philosopher – whose writings have been of a mayor influence to me and to this project – was one of the founders of deconstructionism. He developed the theory of ‘The Strange’ and how the strange is to be found in The Fracture, Fraction or simply in The Cut. My goal here is to recreate and (re) discover this strange and innovative feeling through the detail present in old buildings, more particularly cathedrals and old government buildings.
For several reasons, I applied this theory onto the new courthouse of Ghent. First and foremost, it is without a doubt a functional and minimalistic, boring building. Also, It is rather absurd that lawyers and judges still have to walk around with a gown and white band, while the building in which everything is situated has lost its entire meaning and power. A triangular piece was extracted/cut/fractioned from the new courthouse of Ghent with fault lines cutting through the courtrooms. Based on the characteristics of ancient cathedrals and government buildings this extracted piece of the building was rebuilt entirely with pieces (13.000) of metal and aluminum. The use of these materials, instead of stone, creates an additional alienation and therefore detail.
If we now as tourists visit historical buildings, we experience a strange and embarrassing desire to fall on our knees and worship a being that is as powerful and exalted as we are small and helpless. Obviously, the cathedrals builders wouldn’t have been surprised by such a desire, because their aim was focused precisely on us, abandoning our self sufficiency in front of their extremely detailed walls and ceilings of lace to make even the most sober hearts receptive and susceptible for transcendental stimuli. “Alienation by Detail”