• 7. L.H. De Koninck with colleagues

    In the early 1970, during the preparatory stages of the first retrospect exhibition on Louis Herman De Koninck’s works, R.-L. Delevoy and M. Culot asked him to express his views on the origins of his style in the 1920’s. As an answer, the architect submitted an autobiographic document which constituted amazing proof, not only of the influences and developments he experienced until 1926 (the year the Lenglet house was finished), but also of the specific factors which have contributed to the development of modern architecture in Belgium.

    Right in the first paragraphs of his personal (and historically important) account, he tries to explain Lenglet…

    “I had to face the fact that as a spectator and not an actor, I could not “directly” give a satisfactory answer to the question as put to me, and so it was decided that I should be asked a more personal question. It reads as follows: How, in the space of ten years, were you able to build with such perfection, the villa it number 103, avenue Fond’Roy in Uccle? I believe a good answer to this very flattering question, put to me by a few initiated people, requires a dareful and thorough examination of whatever, during my life, influenced my destiny, either consciously or unconsciously.(…)”

    and later in the document, he continues:

    “Let us try and explain the Fond’Roy villa realised for a painter who presented me with a very strict programme, which fixed the architectural conditions. This house was in fact intended to become a houseworkshop and had to include, among other things, an approximately 6 m high wall needed for hanging up large cloths. The “duplex” plan was derived from this strict condition’ and it explained the originality of the building. I again applied the principle of the “square plan” and encouraged by the example of my own house, I reduced the number of interior supports to only one. The plan consisted mainly of four equal rectangles of 5 m by 4 m, which made it possible to standardise the length of the floors to that measure, on the same principle as the one I had applied two fears before for my own house. reinforced concrete not being widespread at the time and therefore expensive, hollow walls were built by using tiles, with large spaces between each one. Out of a total thickness of 28 cm, about one third was material, the rest was hollow. Each bay had a given place in the different rooms. For the large bay one top level of the lounge, a series of small reinforced concrete posts were used to solve the problem of the I m span, with an overhanging return of 2,70 m at each end. In fact it was a strictly utilitary program, with regard of the plan as well as the facades. I personally believe in relative perfection, based upon the allowed budget. Volume, filled and hollow parts have no other purpose but to solve a problem in the same way as architecture without an architect. My friends had hoped I might make comments on the rest of my work; I think is up to others to do so. I believe I have explained he main reasons that led to the house at Nr 103, avenue Fond’Roy, which some people consider as a somewhat perfect starting-point.(…)”