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Adrien Tirtiaux

Top Down Bottom Up



At Transfo, faced with poor access, Adrien Tirtiaux has built a pedestrian bridge connecting the canal directly to the main industrial buildings, south of the actual entrance. This new access radically changes the perception of the site by creating a spectacular dramaturgy: going down through a pit full of wild vegetation, the visitor passes an existing door and arrives at the scintillating heart of Transfo, confronted with the buildings in their rough monumentality. As often in Tirtiaux’ works, the construction principle translates the tensions at stake into structural elements. Hanging from a massive, sculptural concrete beam cast on the spot, the bridge itself is an open wooden structure including a stairway and a ramp to push one’s bicycle. It is built so as to touch the vegetation underneath as little as possible, letting the trees and plants grow up and through it. A closer look at the wooden structure of the footbridge reveals its kinship with the beam it hangs from: visitors actually walk on the formwork that was used to cast the 20m-long concrete beam. The contradictory dynamics between the top-down structural system and nature growing bottom-up underneath the bridge echo the classical dichotomy in recent urban planning theory. Tirtiaux’ footbridge reflects poetically on this context. Top-down approaches – decided and ordered by an authority, supported by investors – are distinguished from bottom-up movements, in which local communities are at the origin of change and participate in the design process. Top Down Bottom Up proposes a permanent infrastructure, enabling you to access the site and leave this particular place in its original state. 


Exact GPS coordinates artwork: 50°48'47.5"N 3°21'15.9"E


Transfo is the sizzling name of a former power plant along the Bossuit-Kortrijk Canal, once looming large over Zwevegem and still commanding the skyline. Coal used to be transformed here into electricity and steam on a massive scale. Energy is in the DNA of the site, that is now being redeveloped into a cutting-edge knowledge and experience centre sparking adventure, business, culture, sustainable energy and education. A powerful sample of conservation through development Leiedal, Zwevegem and the Province positively energise. The plant was constructed in 1911 to provide Zwevegem with electricity. Almost a century later, the plug was pulled and a reconversion plan was drawn up with the utmost respect for the electrifying atmosphere of this imposing national treasure. The majestic engine room boasts a unique collection of turbines and generators, often the jaw-dropping backdrop for functions, events and even television recordings. The tourist info point will tell you all about the heritage, the reconversion project and sights to see. In full transformation, Transfo will once again be buzzing with activity, bridging the gap between past and future. 


Adrien Tirtiaux (Brussels, °1980) lives and works in Antwerp. Trained as an engineer-architect, he studied sculpture and performance at the Vienna Academy for Visual Arts. His interventions, in buildings or in the public space, have one common denominator: the redefinition of space. Tirtiaux observes the world and experiments with it. Through his installations and constructions, he tries to capture and transform our relationship with our surroundings, inconspicuously questioning the symbolic socialisation processes that go along with it. He likes to call his interventions ‘contextual works’. Here, he has built a bridge from a single point to explore: a metaphor for the development of any new idea or plan.