De Kruisberg
A prison modification project




“ After all, old age is a crisis, but also a deviation since in our society where leisure is the rule, idleness is a sort of deviation ”

Michel Foucault Heterotopia

In the society we live in, we are always expected to work. The idea of work in this context could replace the word duty, and could also mean different activities according each life's stage. In one's young days, to study is generally regarded as their work. In the next stage, labor replaces studies. Then, after retirement, in the old age, if one lives in a developed society, in which one doesn’t have to worry about money, one's duty simply becomes “to do something”.

Traveling around the world, enjoying gardening, learning new language... they have choices and can do whatever they want to do. Thus we can say that the work fort his stage is leisure. Whichever the stage is, doing these “work” has been a rule to follow in our life, being lazy and doing nothing would never be accepted. In our world, Hard “work” is virtue and idleness is vice.

But why ? What kind of idea is lying under this social norm? What does that mean to being idleness to us?

A Taoism chinese philosopher Lao Tzu (BC 600) advocates the value of non-action. He says “Tao does nothing, yet through it all things are done” Tao could be translated as way. In Chinese, his way of thinking is often described as Wu Wei, which could literally be translated by doing nothing. But, it should be also added that the caveat that doing nothing doesn’t mean doing nothing. So what does Wu Wei really mean? Wu may be translated as not have or without . Wei may be translated as do, act, serve as, govern or effort. The most common translation is non-action, like Stephen Mitchell translates it. But it can also be translated : without action, without

effort, without control. It is also presented as a paradox, Wei Wu Wei, meaning acting without action or effortless doing. And now, through the paradox, we can see there really is some doing with this doing nothing. Doing nothing is doing something. To better understand Wu Wei, consider less commonly referenced senses of it : Action that does not involve struggle or excessive effort. In this instance, Wu means without and Wei means effort. Now we have effortless action. And that is probably the aptest definition of Wu Wei. So, what does effortless action mean ? It means doing what comes naturally. It means going with the flow, to submit to the laws of nature and work with, instead of against nature. In this way, we can say that the idleness is the ultimate natural way of human being.

“ When, in our civilized Europe, we would find a trace of the native beauty of man, we must go seek it in the nations where economic prejudices have not yet uprooted the hatred of work... The Greeks in their era of greatness had only contempt for work... The philosophers of antiquity taught contempt for work, that degradation of the free man, the poets sang of idleness, that gift from the Gods.”

The Right to Be Lazy  Paul Lafargue in 1880

Theorstein Veblen, American economist and sociologist published in 1899 his book The Theory of the Leisure Class. The leisure class, he says here, is a social class, which is constructed by people who were wealthy enough to live their lives without labor. In the other word, the social class with people who had nothing to do. These people

were seen in America from the late 18th century. In the book, he write that the leisure class was “allowed” to be the state of idleness when the others needed to spend most of their lives for labor. Being able to do nothing was a privilege, and they use this privilege to contribute the development of art. They creates their work by 

themselves... to kill their time. However, in the 20th century, the definition of leisure changed under the development of Fordism. Fordism is an economic and social system named thanks to Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motors. It standardized our working style – 8 hours work per day, and 2 days off a week, which meant the workers were finally entitled to have free time.


Being able to do nothing is a privilege, and they use this privilege to contribute to the development of art.

However, how to manage free time if one never had the opportunity to enjoy it before ? That’s how the leisure industry emerged. They offered things to do to people who didn't know how to. Their job is not to meet our demand and desire, but to create themselves. And nowadays, doing leisure is on our to-do-list.

These philosophy and history bring a question. Is the greatness of hard “work” really something to be respected ? And this question brings another one. In the end, is the idleness really something to be judged ?


Pink interventions

Color of a new identity

Looking after a definition of pink, we realized this color was pretty young in the color history, according to Michel Pastoureau, theoretician of colors : 

” For a longtime, this color didn’t have any proper existence. One used to say « in- carnat », that is to say flesh-colored, colouring skin. Inclined to Romanticism, pink gained its symbolic at the XVIIIth century : tenderness and femininity (a soft red, devoid of its violent nature), sweetness (we still say « voir la vie en rose » in french (see life in pink) that is to say to consider only the positive sides of things). It also have a negative aspect : mushiness (a french expression « à l’eau de rose » (rose water) appeared during the 19th century). At one point, it was linked to homosexuality in a negative way. LGBT community chose a rainbow flag in order to symbolize diversity, of colors and people, and tolerance. “

Inspired by flesh color, according to our first speculative scenario (first part of De Kruisberg modification project) staging elderly and wrinkles as a new canon of beauty, but also by The Garden of Delights, we offered to this color a new identity : the love in idleness. In deed, we needed a color that doesn't feet any actual signage and fit our starting point in creating a society based on old people.  

Flexibility and Opening

Breaking the old rules

Manor, monastery, reform school and finally prison, De Kruisberg has known a lifespan as an heterotopia as described by Michel Foucault.


His first principle explains that every cultures in the world already created nowhere places, some heterotopias, like military schools, boarding school or even honeymoons. Nowadays, it's more about "heterotopias of deviation: those in which individuals whose behavior is deviant in relation to the required mean or norm are placed". Hs fifth principle argues that " Heterotopias always presuppose a system of opening and closing that both isolates them and makes them penetrable ".

Now all those old functions has disappeared, the area won the possibility to be more open on the world. The architecture which is shaped like a U, surrendered by canals used to fit its old function, but can now be free from it. By breaking the rules of the heterotopia, the area needs more flexibility in terms of architecture. 


Testimony of History,

The theory of ruins value

This concept deals with the idea that a building’s value appears after the work of time. By getting old, the building earns in beauty’s value. Adolf

Hitler’s architect, Albert Speer, imagined German Empire thousand years after it’s end, in order to be historically recognized as a great nation in History, like Romains or Grec’s Empire.

The fact that a building could eventually collapse had to be taken in account. Albert Speer played with this tragic possibility, claiming he invented the theory of ruins, and defining an old building has a track of the past, a testimony of history.

Hitler liked to say that the purpose of his building was to transmit his time and its spirit to posterity. Ultimately all that remained to remind men of the great epochs of history was their monumental architecture, he would philosophize. What had remained of the emperors of Rome? What would still bear witness to them today, if their buildings had not survived? Periods of weakness are bound to occur in the history of nations, he argued, but at their lowest ebb, their architecture will speak to them of former power. Naturally, a new national consciousness could not be awakened by architecture alone. But when after a long spell of inertia a sense of national grandeur was born anew, the monuments of men’s ancestors were the most impressive exhortations. The iron reinforcements protruded from concrete debris and had already begun to rust. Once could easily visualise their further decay. This dreary sight led me to some thoughts which I later propounded to Hitler under the pretentious heading of “A Theory 

of Ruin Value”. My “Theory” was intended to deal with this dilemma. By using special materials and by applying certain principles of statics, we should be able to build structures which even inastate of decay, after hundreds or (such were our reckonings) thousands of years would more or

less resemble Roman models. He himself accepted my ideas as logical and illuminating. He gave orders that in the future the important buildings of his Reich were to be erected in keeping with the principle of this “law of ruins”.

Or seen as beauty or ugliness, decay of cities inspires. Like a museum of old times, a true version of history highlighted by tracks of time, One have seen many abandoned places being an attraction for meditation, tourism and discovery. Brain naturally tries to rebuild what is missing : thanks to this process, one is also paying attention to some details that are not took in consideration in daily life. 


" They visualise the passage of time and the inevitability of collapse, reminding us of

our own transience ”

If those intense visits are satisfying some people’s appetite, they are also frustrating some others. The value of ruins also comes from this intense and silent relationship between the space and soul. In deed, a communication is established between landscapes and imagination, thanks to the irrationality of the place. Ruins also disrupt one’s codes and traditional behaviors organized by societies. If those intense visits are satisfying some people’s appetite, they are also frustrating some others. The value of ruins also comes from this intense and silent relationship between space and In deed, a communication is established between landscapes and imagination, thanks to the irrationality of the place. Ruins also disrupt one’s codes and traditional behaviors organized by societies.


The Gate

Break the wall to break the rules will be the first design decision, in order to strictly turn the corner of the past Kruisberg's functions. In fact, the building is completely withdraw into itself. We noticed an interesting corridor between the outside and the inside of the domain and closed by two doors : When both of the doors are open, you can feel both the call of freedom and the feeling of being prisoner from the Kruisberg.


As a very symbolic decision but also in order to create a great ground for passengers, the building needs to be open in its very middle. A crude break will illustrate the idea of liberty more than a simple gate. The paths of the road going through it will be extended very far until being lost in nature.


Also, according to its old  function, freedom needs to be illustrated. In deed, the architecture is pretty old and shuttered ; the opening as its symbolic, needs to be evident. 

The Canal

open two of four sides = open the area 

idea of line = infinity

water = life, nature, fluidity

+ pink sand underwater + pink sand on the path of the old canal = understand there is a decision behind + idea of museography and keep tracks of past


In order to follow the idea of the Theory of Ruins Value

archeological pavement 

destroy some strategic part : let the foundations appear = reveal the heterotopia while letting the building be free from its old identities 

reveal the beauty of a building through its "ruins"


meditation space  : no aim for the building, no aim for visitors, only idleness 


From walk to wander

Make a straight way from A to B would be impossible. In deed, it is asked not to have any goal in this place because there is nothing to do except doing nothing.

The pillars have been created to avoid the walkers to have a predefine road. Pushing the walkers to improvise their way is the very first step to wander. 

Wu Wei Furnitures

undefined shapes for undefined goal 

lay under the sun, under shadow

sit, stand, observe, talk, dream, sleep, wait

organic lines to contrast with the rigor of the past roles 


Project ordered by the Dutch national Architect, M. Rijksbouwmeester


Directed by Sjoerd Ter Borg, in association with Elissa Lacoste, Kuang Yi Ku, Aleksandra Korbanska and Sayo Kato