Context as an inspiration

TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS | PHOTOS © BF ARCHITECTURE

A building is never an island. The adjacent houses or spaces, the local legislation and the context of the neighbourhood determine how we experience any construction. Bobby Fogel, the founder of BF Architecture, believes the ‘genius loci’ is an architect’s main source of inspiration and studies carefully each location before he puts his signature on it.

“Architecture is the art of living,” renowned architect Bobby Fogel states. To him, a building, just like any piece of art, should tell a story to those who look at it. “The late Oscar Niemeyer told me: the biggest museums in the world are the cities: and they are for free. Whether you have knowledge of architecture or not, everyone can walk around and enjoy the stories these masterpieces tell.” For him and his office, BF Architecture, a building should speak its own story. The choice of the materials and the design should be rooted in its location. The genius loci (or, the spirit of the place) is vital in the creation of any building with legitimacy.

With this ambitious approach, Fogel often showcases his talent in the most prestigious designing contests in the world. On occasion, he often reaches second place, as happened with his design for the Museum of Ethnography in Budapest. In this case, the jury acknowledged his design to be the most architecturally interesting, exceeding all the needs and expectations for a 21st-century museum. However, the construction price of it, made him finish in second place. “It would, of course, be nicer to win, but even as a silver laureate, you can make valuable connections. People now know my name, which presents opportunities. I had the chance to exhibit at collateral events of the Venice Biennale of Architecture and, recently, my name was listed in the book 30 of the most relevant world architects. That motivates me.”

Because of its great reputation, BF architecture attracts many students as well. “Our style and vision are much appreciated among younger talents. Therefore, we always have a few interns. They stimulate us to think more on an academic level.” Because of the remarkable results for interns, BF Architecture has built a great reputation among universities. Therefore, they offer in-house student dorms for Erasmus students who want to come for a post-academic internship. “We work as an open institution with a strong and interesting programme. Many of our interns are so passionate, that they even keep working long after closing time.”

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