ATELIER IEF SPINCEMAILLE
RESEARCH & PUBLICATIONS
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On August 4, 2014, I dug a pit two meters deep, until I touched the first historic layer of the city of Leuven. Everything that lies beneath this layer has never been touched by man, throughout all of history. I dug up 40 tonnes of this undisturbed ground and transferred it to ‘Hertogeneiland’, the very same spot where the city was founded.
With this excavated soil we built a tower, using the combined efforts of 140 volunteers and a team of experts in various fields. We toiled for two weeks, from September 13 to September 25, and in the end we managed to build a tower 5.3 metres high. We rammed all 40 tonnes of sandy loam into temporary wooden frames (a construction technique known as ‘rammed earth’), averaging about 4 tonnes of earth per day. Once the structure could support its own weight, the frames were removed, resulting in an earthen ‘chimney’ that brings the vastness of the sky into view.
By September 26th, the tower was finished and we celebrated with a big party for everyone involved.
From a journal entry... ‘Right now, the four walls of the tower are protected by a roof plate. At an as-yet unspecified time, this plate will be removed, at which point rainwater will seep into the rammed earth. This will slowly cause it to break down and, much like a sandcastle, the tower will gradually cave in. When it has become a formless earthen mass once more, the soil will be dumped back into the pit I dug.’
Concept: Ief Spincemaille & Studio van de Verbreder.
Realisation in cooperation with Eva Gheysen.
Production: 30CC, Stad Leuven & Studio van de Verbreder
Construction Expertise: Nicolas Coeckelberghs (BC Architecten)
Geology: Yaana Bruneel & Jan Elsen
Archives: Marica Ceunen
Archeology: Annika Devroe
Drawings: Wide Vercnocke
With thanks to all volunteers and the strong 30CC team.