Ad Hoc Baroque

Marcel Raymaekers' architecture of reuse
36 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3ES
Mon–Sat 11 am–7 pm

Marcel Raymaekers designed and built perhaps 150 houses across Belgium and beyond in the second half of the 20th century. He did it through virtuoso, brazen, eye-watering assemblages of salvaged building materials, architectural antiques, scrap materials, and the "natural" byproducts of industrial processes.

Never professionally qualified, but with a broader repertoire than the average architect – hands-on wrangler of contractors and craftsmen; media provocateur; impresario of a salvage emporium / nightclub / restaurant / "estaminet" – Raymaekers concocted and sold dreams of nobility to Belgium's growing middle class. His practice was ignored by the architectural establishment and undocumented by tax authorities (until they caught up with him and he was bankrupted in 2014). He was and is – now aged 92 – not a hero. But much of what he did raises critical questions – aesthetic, artisanal, material, procedural – worth grappling with if we really want architecture and construction to be more circular.