Jo Crepain
Anterwerpen in my mind
Ziche Alberta, January 21, 2008
Jo Crepain_Eliks
Jo Crepain_Eliks
Z.A. : And now I'd like to ask you something about your water tower. I'm particularly curious to know about your relationship with the owner of the building, because this is an unusual, stupendous project...

J.C.: I must admit that my relationship with the owner was an unusual one, because I had worked on a housing project and a series of studio apartments above a pharmacy in Brasschaat, where the water tower is located, and a young landscape architect lived in one of these apartments who also worked for the city government in Brasschaat.
I went to see him in his apartment to take a photograph, because the apartment was beautiful, well-furnished, with nice paintings and carpets. The young man had taste, he was refined and very nice too, and so I asked him to do some gardens in some of the houses I was working on.

Jo Crepain_Kunsthalle Lophem
Jo Crepain_Kunsthalle Lophem
We got to know each other for professional reasons and then, when the city sold the water tower, he was one of the first to know; he made an offer and we presented a plan together to demonstrate to the city that our idea was the best.
We succeeded. So this is how we met and how we came to do the water tower project. I was glad that he didn't have a lot of money, so the project couldn't be too complicated. At first we had thought of building an elevator and a staircase next to the building. But luckily, as I was saying, we didn't have enough money, so we simply did the water tower, sticking with the original project, and I'm glad we did.
We were lucky we didn't have the money, because what we have now is a simple, sober, beautiful building. Sometimes it's hard to do something simple, harder than doing something complicated. We have to keep in mind Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and his "less is more", and work hard to do less.

Jo Crepain_Feyen
Jo Crepain_Feyen
Z.A. : What are you working on right now?

J.C.: We have 70 people in our studio, and so we have a lot of projects underway, some in Holland and some in Belgium. In Holland we work primarily on residential architecture, social housing and town planning, which I find particularly interesting. In Belgium we specialise in construction of office buildings, public buildings and schools. In the past year we have won three school contracts, and so in Belgium we will be concentrating on non-residential projects. We also have projects in this area, and have been commissioned to do some major apartment projects, which is rare in our country, but they are still in the preliminary phase, the urban planning phase, and so we will be getting started in a year or two.

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