Femke Van der Meulen (°2000) is a PhD researcher at the KU Leuven, Faculty of Architecture in Brussels. In 2023, she joined the research project ‘Meaning and Material’ under the supervision of prof. dr. ir. arch. Sven Sterken (KUL) and prof. dr. ir. arch. Stephanie Van de Voorde (VUB), funded by the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO). Together with fellow PhD researcher ir. arch. Chiara Kuijpers (VUB), she explores the potential of roof structures of post-war churches within a context of adaptive reuse. The project aims to integrate different methods and concepts from four disciplines (Construction History – Building Pathology – Conservation Theory – Architectural Design) to highlight the historical significance and to develop strategies for the future use of these post-war church buildings. Femke will be focusing on two of these disciplines, namely Building Pathology and Architectural Design. Combining these, the project tries to uncover reoccurring material defects within these roof constructions and possible remediations, so they can be taken into account within new interventions. By respecting the historical, spatial, structural and technical aspects of these churches, the research will discover the meaning through the material within this post-war building fabric to enhance design propositions.
Femke graduated with a Master’s in Architecture (KUL – Sint-Lucas, Ghent). During her master’s, she followed an international exchange program of one semester at the Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz (FHNW) in Basel, Switzerland. She was also part of the curatorial team responsible for the Day of Architecture in 2023, organized by the Flemish Architecture Institute (VAi).