Allard / Present absence

Present absence

Author: Douglas Allard, KU Leuven

Supervisor: Thierry Lagrange, Prof. dr., KU Leuven; Dimitri Vangrunderbeek, KU Leuven; Scott Colman, Rice University, Houston; Viviana D’Auria, KU Leuven; Xaveer De Geyter, Principal XDGA, Brussels & Paris

Research stage: early / intermediate

Category: Extended abstract


Present Absence is a PhD in Practice research project located in and developed through a structured collaboration and exchange between architectural education and architectural practice.

The role of the ‘non-built’ program in architecture is frequently ignored, disregarded, or given over to other disciplines. An increasingly programmatic and performance-based architectural profession tends to negate the intrinsic contribution of the spaces which can be considered as absence.

The research project posits the hypothesis that absence can be a generator for built form, rather than the resultant, and furthermore it can be utilised as a methodological framework to conceptualize, develop and realise architectural projects [ 1 ].

Design Driven Research (DDR) within the research project investigates and catalogues absence based on its morphology and typology and case study research of realised examples will evaluate its phenomenological qualities.

The final definition of what this absence is will form an element of the research; it may be defined through an absence of functional program, of tectonic expression, typological precedent, or a manifest and physical subtraction of built form.

Keywords: absence, void, figureground, omission