Maarten Gielen is, together with architects Tristan Boniver and Lionel Devlienger, one of the founding members of Rotor collective that operates in Brussels since 2005. In their activities, they combine practical, investigative and curatorial practices producing critical views towards usage and re-usage of material resources in building industry and architecture. In their view, architecture is above all an object of recycling. They approach it in the obverse phase of its process, that is, at the moment when it is to be transformed or demolished.
The collective develops its own economic activity in the “Rotor Deconstruction” company that deals with disassembly and re-selling of the building and architectonic materials that are to be demolished. What makes Rotor in their practice different from other demolition companies is their endeavor to find new strategies that could affect the life cycle of materials and shift them into new projects. That applies to legislature adjustments, approaching another potential subjects like real estate companies, urban developers, production companies, designers or architects, as well as to offering education and consulting services.
Rotor has founded Opalis, an online database, but they themselves design also interiors and this way they show how to re-contextualize second-hand elements and materials and how to endow them with new meaning and aesthetic value.
Rotor’s research activities often lead into exhibition projects done completely by the members of the group, starting with writing texts and catalog up to design and execution of installation. “Usus/usures,” one of the first shows that brought wider attention to the collective took place in Belgian pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2010. It was followed by the successful retrospective “OMA/Progress” and “Behind the Green Door” show as the part of Oslo Architecture Triennale in 2013.
The interview was done on the occasion of Maarten’s lecture in Prague and Brno in autumn of 2015.