The earthquake of April – May 2015 has left a big impact in the lives of the Nepali people and flattened the symbols of human creation – built structures, both contemporary and historic. Many people have lost their homes and still find themselves in a daily struggle to protect them from rain and cold. Among all these individual tragedies, most of the public structures such as health centres and schools did not receive priority. They are beyond the means of a single family or an individual household. Schools are the most negatively affected service in the quake hit areas including Raigaun area. Response has been slow so far.

The ambition of the ‘The Ideal School’ project is twofold: it is about the (re-)construction of school buildings and the re-vitalizing of the schooling process in the Raigaun area as a whole. This double focus is important because new (better) schools being built without strengthening the accountability of the teachers and the participation of the parents would again result in an inefficient use of (scarce) recourses.

partners: KULeuven . CEPP . Centre for Educational Policies and Practices . Provincie Oost-Vlaanderen

Klaas Vanslembrouck . VIK architects . dr. Hilde Bouchez . Tom Callebaut . TC plus . Wart Thys . Lin Seminck . Ignaas Back . BACK architects


back architectenbureau beniback architectenbureau beniback architectenbureau beniback architectenbureau beniback architectenbureau beni

BACK - haiti 01 BACK - haiti 03 BACK - haiti 04


Building Back Better Communities, Haïti, Port-au-Prince

The structural design for the house consist of a low-cost pre-engineered structural steel system. We have opted for this solution given the open-source nature of these products (many possible suppliers), their standardized and pre-engineered qualities that can warrant code compliance, their documented seismic performance and structural capacity, and their ease of assembly. The facade system is non-load-bearing and can be manufactured from many different durable materials.

back mcmaster architecten . ism UGent . prof. Steven Van Dessel . 2011

In the line of reasoning of anthropologist Arjun Appadurai and his concept of “social imaginary”, -through which he argues that in our globalised world people are constantly negotiating their identity through different agents, globally and locally-, we looked for ways to activate that imaginary, through a workshop.

In this preliminary phase, we designed a space in the library, not to read books in silence, -as was originally asked-, but as a place that ignites and empowers the old hunter stories and other stories, which still simmer in the collective memory and create active links in the personal memory of the children. These stories function as little light bulbs, which bring back a meshwork of stories and connections to their family, this village and the particular natural surroundings they grew up in. These little flickering’s of light can show a way to imagine a balanced identity between the global and the local. This balance is especially essential in anchoring and giving meaning to the personal life in areas of mental distress, through loss of history and cultural connection.

This is only the start of the project, which addressed a direct question from the headmaster. We wish to continue this storytelling project through the designing of different storytelling houses, throughout the village, each addressing another theme related to the creation of a strong and proud identity for the people of Ittoqqortoormiit, who not only saw their culture disappear, but who also witness how their landscape and natural environment is literately melting like snow before the sun.

The abandoned houses scattered all-over town are now an ugly reminder of the fact that the village is somehow diminishing and maybe eventually dying. The boarding up of many houses does not contribute to the image the younger generation wishes to give their children, nor an image they want to distribute towards tourism, as this is for many younger people the only way to an external revenue, and thus a better life.

The abandoned houses add up to the existing image of a town in distress, slowly becoming a ghost town.

So our main question is how can we bring these buildings back to life in a way that they harbour the rich Inuit tradition and rally new perspectives for a sustainable and meaningful community.

VIK architects . TC plus . Hilde Bouchez . BACK architects



Het ontwikkelen van ‘des centres genereux’ (combinatie van ruimte voor gezondheidszorg, onderwijs, gemeenschapsvorming, lokale economie, ambachten, kunst en muziek,…) in DR Congo, Beni.

Hilde Bouchez, Klaas Vanslembrouck, Tom Callebaut TC plus, Ignaas Back . BACK architects

ism COPAK . Dimitri Moreels




A parallel design studio, adaptive re-use, between University of Cape Town & KU Leuven.

The re-purposing of existing structures within the context of habitable spaces with zero-impact to the environment.

The design studio focuses on the one hand on establishing negotiable versus non-negotiable elements of built form by lived realities and social pressures, and on the other hand by the urgency of material sustainability and environmental concerns. Socially and contextually relevant programming around the re-use and re-purposing of existing buildings is well complemented by a rigorous approach to the material performance of the building.

The strategies and tactics of the city fabric can be explored through ideas for the re-purposing of existing modern concrete or steel frame structures through the insertion of temporary structures that are designed to be flexible for change over time. But it allows also for a certain amount of informality to penetrate into formal structures of architecture, thus exploring the relationship between the role of the architect and that of the user in the design of the environment.

Stella Papanicolaou . UCT . University of Cape Town . Ignaas Back . BACK architects . KU Leuven