Program: Theatre with 200 seats, café and multifunctional studio
Client: Municipality of Lennik
Phase: competition, 2005

Gaasbeek is a village of 120 inhabitants, situated in the middle of the romantic rolling surroundings named Pajottenland. This village and its landscape have great cultural and tourist value with key elements such as the castle of Gaasbeek, the castle of Groenenberg and the private concert venue Oude Melkerij. Maccreanor Lavington was invited to produce a proposal for ‘a new word centre’ located on the site of the old village school, behind the former town hall. The school has strong symbolic value being where influential contemporary theatre talent such as Josse de Pauw, Hugo de Greef, Erik de Volder, Jan Decleir, Anne-Teresa Keersmaeker started their carreers.

Maccreanor Lavington’s proposal strategically repositions the new ‘Woordoord’, initially planned in the old village school, from behind the retained former town hall. The proposal ensures the Woordoord has physical presence and a frontage onto the street. Furthermore, the strategy allows the building to remain modest in height, thus adhering with the typological precedent of the village. The architectural language builds on the dominant form, that of rural roofscapes. Finally the position of the building, together with the existing wall, results in a courtyard reminiscent of a farmyard. It collects and distributes goods, visitors and actors. It’s intimate, enclosed character is a counterpoint to the open rural countryside. The courtyard is designed to hold festivals, festivals that are a nostalgic reinterpretation of the fantastic early parties that occurred on the village square.

This Woordoord provides a series of performance spaces. They are unique in character but at the same time allow for adjustments and alterations in size shape and atmosphere by the users.
The former town hall is recast as the artists’ domain, containing apartments and administration offices. The daily use, the coming and going, happens directly on the street as a part of the everyday routine in the village, but when there is a show on, the building behind opens up…