‘Dom Hans Van Der Laan. A house for the mind’ written by Caroline Voet wins architectural book award 2018

Dom Hans van der Laan: A House for the Mind
The book Dom Hans van der Laan: A House for the Mind is being published by the Flanders Architecture Institute on the occasion of the exhibition Dom Hans van der Laan. A House for the Mind which took place in 2017 at deSingel in Antwerp. Author Caroline Voet (KU Lueven) worked in close collaboration with graphic designer Stien Stessens and De Grafische Cel by Luca School of Arts. The manual is an introduction to Dom Hans van der Laan’s design methodology, as he applied it to Roosenberg Abbey. Original drawings are combined with explanatory diagrams, complemented by nine original letters from the architect to the Sisters as well as a series of photographs by Friederike von Rauch, to offer an in-depth reading of this building on different levels. In 1977, the Benedictine monk and architect Dom Hans van der Laan (1904-1991) published his manifesto Architectonic Space, Fifteen Lessons on the Disposition of the Human Habitat. Seeking out to capture the essence of spatial experience as a foundation for architecture, he developed a design methodology through his own proportional system of the ‘Plastic Number’. Around that same period, Dom van der Laan built Roosenberg Abbey in Waasmunster for the Marian Sisters of St.-Francis. And while his theories remain fairly abstract, this building demonstrates the concrete use of proportion, materiality and light in relation to perception and movement in space. Moreover, this building is designed to guide the inhabitant into contemplation, intensity and stillness.

​fragment of the jury statement:
‘A book that seems to come from a different age. ‘A House for the Mind’ has no need for grand creative gestures, relying instead on a subtle yet precise form of expression to familiarize readers with its subject matter – the design philosophy of Benedictine monk and architect Dom Hans van der Laan (1904-1991). The print space and typography are intuitively arranged and overall the publication, an exhibition catalog, is characterized by restraint. The use of OTA binding for the catalog is just as pleasing as the sensitive choice of materials, which already makes the book seem prize-worthy when touched with closed eyes. The effortless switch to coated paper for the atmospheric photo essay by photographer Friederike von Rauch attests to skilled bookbinding and depicts the spatial qualities of Roosenberg Abbey in Waasmunster (Belgium) – a masterpiece of van der Laans – in a manner that makes it almost physically palpable.’

DAM Architectural Book Award
The Frankfurt Book Fair and the German Architecture Museum (DAM) award the International DAM Architectural Book Award for the tenth time. The unique in its kind and by now highly regarded award distinguishes the best architecture books of a year. The award ceremony will be held on October 10 at the Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM). Also an exhibition of the awarded books was presented at the Frankfurt Book Fair (October 10 – 14, 2018).