The BUDA island encompasses the dense city heart of Kortrijk, mirroring the cities’ rich but idiosyncratic history. Since the last ten centuries this insular territory has evolved from a Catholic shelter environment for the poor and the sick into a prosperous industry for water-dependent manufacturing (breweries, dye houses, bleach plants…). Oddly enough these two radically different historical destinies are still extremely present today, though the shelters have been reformatted into hospitals and infrastructure for the elderly, while the industrial witnesses have found themselves turned into urban envelopes for new cultural programs. Hence an atmosphere of unbound – even haphazard - experiment lingers over the BUDA island. In its endeavor to gradually excel as the City of Design, Kortrijk spares no opportunity to score on the international design ladder. The latest evidence of this striving is the BUDA factory, a textile dye plant originating from 1924, with no particular worthwhile spatial or even historical features. The sole challenge of the BUDA factory is to offer an extremely large and generous space for cultural expression in its broadest meaning and built at an extremely low cost. The programmatic infill is consciously considered as secondary. The refitting of the BUDA factory logically emphasizes its proper foundation, referring to its past by simply remaining a workshop for production. Most of the factory’s spaces are re-trimmed and reconfigured as to cater for a maximum of objective and excessive space, delicate and brutal at once.
Two hollow pentagonal spaces, one outside and one inside, introduce an interiorized sequence of light, scale and indeterminacy. The outside volume performs as an antechamber, rupturing with its ambiguous presence the tight row of buildings that frame it. The inside pentagon juxtaposes a series of studios, exhibition spaces and workshops, cumulating into a rooftop terrace as the sole encounter with the context and the cityscape of Kortrijk. In brief, the BUDA factory is a tool to look with, not an object to look at. It is a collection of found and added spaces - of an unadapted nature - allowing for innumerably diverse audiences to probe for whatever they are looking for.