Genezende Gebouwen (Healing Buildings)
2020 - ongoing

Research project on architecture and epidemic diseases

Healing Buildings is a research project that investigates the interplay between architecture, urban planning, and epidemic diseases; and a project that is currently growing into multiple series of works. 

The research project originated in Room with Windows (1888-2020), an installation from my exhibition This Creaking Floor and All the Ceilings Below (FOTODOK / Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons, 2020) that explored the role of the window in the 19th-century school building where these two institutions are housed.

Fearing cholera outbreaks and the attributed role of the air in the spread of bacteria, strict hygiene regulations were imposed by the government for school construction in the 19th century. Fresh air had to be able to circulate as much as possible in buildings so that germs could linger as little as possible in the classrooms. In the design, the upper windows were made in such a way that they could be constantly open and fresh air could circulate through the rooms.

At the end of 2020, I received a grant for artistic research from Utrecht University, Centraal Museum, and ZonMW for this work to further develop my research.
Currently, my research focuses on many different periods in history and I am working on various diseases and their influence on architecture. These range from tuberculosis and Spanish smallpox and from the plague to leprosy and cholera. What many of these diseases have to do with each other is the belief in the so-called miasma theory. In the medical world, up to the 19th century, the cause of epidemics was sought in bad air, in particular the exhalations of decaying organic matter, corpses, swamps and fumes from igniting comets. In the fight against many of these diseases, the air is therefore seen as an enemy. The invisibility of the sky is therefore as elusive and inexplicable as the disease itself. I also find it interesting to see how a healing effect is attributed to fire, smoke, and herbs, but also to sunlight and the ventilation of fresh air within buildings.

Genezende Gebouwen has been made possible with a grant by the University of Utrecht, Centraal Museum and ZonMW

Projects that Genezende Gebouwen (Healing Buildings) includes: The Healer (2021 - ongoing), Study of a Breathing Window (2021 - ongoing), Ashes | Ashes (2022)

Click HERE to see the video portrait made by the University of Utrecht on the project