In my third year at the Netherlands Film Academy, we had 5 weeks to research whatever interested us. I had long loved the book series “The Pillars of the Earth”, “A World without End” and “A Column of Fire” written by Ken Follett. It was actually part of the reason why I wanted to study architecture and engineering back when I was younger. Especially in the first book, the description of how three different builders (no such thing as an architect back then) imagined the cathedral of fictional Kingsbridge, struck me for its poetry and accuracy, without ever feeling like reading a history book. Afterwards, I fell in love with the tv series, based on the two first books, but the books were still my favorites.
As a Production Designer, it felt really interesting to study a building that is fictional but really accurately described in a book. I wanted to study other churches from around the same period and area to see what could have been. Since there were 3 different builders designing and changing this cathedral over a whole century, it seemed relevant to imagine what these designs would look like, what they would have in common and what would be different, following the storyline and the personalities of each character.
Here’s the power point presentation I made back then, explaining the different steps of my research, from the books to the proportions of the designs, through the research in real locations for historical accuracy (sorry it’s in Dutch) : ontwerpen-2-celeste-coupez.pdf
The first film I ever made. Based on the film “Wings of Desire” of Wim Wenders, we had to take a single concept evoked in the film and make a short film about it. We chose the concept of antithesis, the opposing forces that play out throughout the film (humans and angels, mortals and immortals, black and white and colors, good and evil, …). This was also part of my architecture course at La Cambre – Horta.
During my second first year of architecture, there was a workshop during which we (a group of first and second year students) had to make a work of art unrelated to architecture. We chose this anamorphosis that evoked as much a sensual naked body of a woman as the hills and valley. During the presentation of it, we actually put some dry ice in buckets at the feet of the “paintings” to create a misty effect that would make it look even more like mountains and valleys (which is what that title means in French) before revealing, when standing in the right spot, the whole picture of a naked woman.
This project, my second one at La Cambre – Horta, was meant to explore what makes a project. First we had to look at it from the surface of ground it would cover, second to determine where there would be a roof and where not, third to join these ground and roof surfaces with stairs, and finally to make it whole with walls, windows and doors. This lead to an ever changing project, as you can probably see.
At the start of my second first year of architecture, we (a group of 6-7 students) had to make a study of an existing house/cabin, designed by Le Corbusier. We each made technical and perspective drawings and a model on a scale of 1:20.
My final project of my first year of engineering and architecture was a pavilion about an event of WW1. This was to celebrate the centenary of the beginning of the First World War. We needed to find a place in Belgium with a story that resonated with us and to imagine a small museum in that place with small lodgings for the curator of the museum.
I was drawn to Dinant, a gorgeous city, and to a massacre that happened there, where 674 citizens got shot by the germans on the 23rd of August 1914, because the French army had demolished the bridge to slow the germans down. Amongst those were some of my family members, so it was a personal story for me as well.
Dinant has very rocky and steep hillsides, surrounding the water, so apparently the shots fired were echoing throughout the valley and people could hear it for miles. I therefore imagined a sort of dark tunnel in which people would experience something similar, hearing the echoing shots and seeing the names of the dead citizens appear on the floor, the walls and the ceiling. Once they got out of that tunnel, they would come outside, into the light, and see the new bridge down below.
As for the curator’s lodgings, I put it above the museum, in a sort of tower, which could indicate from afar that the museum was there, like a lighthouse or a clock tower. And the space between this new building and the one in front of it would create a square for people to meet and to organise activities.
My second project as an engineering and architecture student (my first one being this chair) was to make a shelter out of cardboard. We could then choose for whom it would be destined (I chose a hermit) and where we would place it (on a cliff in Ireland), and determine with which “real” materials we would built it (I chose a concrete-like aggregate mixed with the type of limestone that can be found in Ireland).
As for the form, I was inspired by the nautilus’ shell, which would create a unique and cosy shelter for my hermit. The outside should be simple, square, the size and shape of manufactured cardboard. In my design was included a bed (following the natural curve of the shelter), a table inside and a chair outside to reflect or simply enjoy the sun. There were windows as well, small holes in the cardboard version that would be replaced by glass bottles in the “realistic” version.