In 2008, at the height of the financial crisis, Joep Van Lieshout purchased a cavernous 21,500-square-foot studio in Rotterdam’s then-seedy M4H area near the harbor, where he staged the autonomous living experiment AVL-Ville seven years prior. As time passed, the design provocateur acquired more than 100,000 square feet of adjacent plots with the AVL Mundo Foundation with the goal of developing a cultural complex. His plans are finally coming to fruition: Visuals have been unveiled for Brutus, a community that, according to a statement released by the studio, “heralds a new model for urban renewal that doesn’t automatically push out creatives once neighborhoods upgrade.”
Brutus will feature affordable living and working spaces for artists inside a trio of Brutalist-informed high-rises designed in collaboration with the local firm Powerhouse Company. Each tower will be connected by low-rise cultural facilities such as a museum, art depot, and exhibition space with the AVL Mundo Foundation. His own studio, Atelier Van Lieshout, will stay in the area; he’s building a transparent facade so locals and passersby can watch his art being made. A nearby section called The Maze will show monumental works from his 25-year oeuvre within a winding array of tunnels and staircases.
“I believe in another way of being involved with art: instead of making individual artworks for the market, I want to make a whole world with many artworks,” Van Lieshout tells Dezeen. “The result of the investment in this large development will make these spaces and some seeding money possible.” Construction on Brutus is currently pending approval from the city of Rotterdam. The development team, which consists of RED Company, Redwood Capital Investments, and NIBC Investment Partners, hopes to break ground in 2023, with completion slated for 2025.