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Amersfoort, the Netherlands
preliminary design
architecture, installation
4800 sqm
Adrianus Kundert

In October 1916, the Central Commission of Workshops of the interned Belgians in the Netherlands submitted a proposal to the Mayor of Amersfoort to establish the ‘Belgenmonument’; a memorial as a token of appreciation for the hospitality enjoyed during the First World War.

The ‘Belgenmonument’ is designed by Huib Hoste in traditional Dutch style. The monument is related to the Amsterdam School-style: the different masses, the various types of masonry with the deep joints and the detailing indicate the monument as typical Dutch. Ironic, in view of the Belgian origin of the architect and the cultural significance of the monument. Why is cultural diversity associated with fleeing here excessively denied?

Zandformatie temporarily transforms the ‘Belgenmonument’ into a Belgian-style memorial. The Neo-Gothic style – that flourished in Belgium in the late nineteenth century – was characteristic of Hoste’s work in the beginning of his career. Various Neo-Gothic elements change the monument into an ode to the Belgian historical culture. Now, the ‘Belgenmonument’ will express what it was originally built for: a gift in remembrance of the internment of Belgian refugee soldiers during the First World War.

The ‘Belgenmonument’ is built on the ‘Amersfoorste Berg’ – a sandy hill, surrounded by woods and heathland. With the brick of the Amsterdam school in mind, we have designed the sandbrick. With this specially developed brick – made of sand and natural resin glue – the loose heather sand is made into a building material.

This sandstone represents the ephemerality of fleeing. Due to natural (weather) conditions the sand composite will erode in one season. Slowly the sand drifts back to the surrounding heathlands. The ever-changing scene gives a different meaning to the history of the place and, moreover, a need to visit the building as soon as possible (again).

Various Neo-Gothic elements change the monument into an ode to the Belgian historical culture.