Architectonic Space

Dom Hans van der Laan

Architectonic Space is the most complete and coherent treatise on the nature, purpose and meaning of architecture that has so far been attempted. It is the product of its author’s lifetime pursuit of an idea that has haunted him from childhood: a search for the archetypal basis of the act of building.Seeing architecture not merely as the expression, but as the precondition of human culture, Hans van der Laan believes that its principles must be sought within architecture itself, rather than in technological, social or ideological factors. His buildings and writings stand out like tablets of stone amid the prevailing uncertainty and opportunism. The style and method of his book its rational building up of an argument founded on simple everyday experience remind one forcibly of the early Greek thinkers, just as Van der Laan’s architecture recalls the houses and cities of the ancient world.

Brill, Leiden, 1977

several languages

Dom Hans van der Laan, A House for the Mind

Caroline Voet

In 1977, the Benedictine monk and architect Dom Hans van der Laan (1904-1991) published his manifesto Architectonic Space, Fifteen Lessons on the Disposition of the Human Habitat. Seeking out to capture the essence of spatial experience as a foundation for architecture, he developed a design methodology through his own proportional system of the Plastic Number. Around that same period, Dom van der Laan built Roosenberg Abbey in Waasmunster for the Marian Sisters of St.-Francis. And while his theories remain fairly abstract, this building demonstrates the concrete use of proportion, materiality and light in relation to perception and movement in space. Moreover, this building is designed to guide the inhabitant into contemplation, intensity and stillness.

This manual is an introduction to Dom van der Laan’s design methodology, as he applied it to Roosenberg Abbey. Original drawings are combined with explanatory diagrams. Nine original letters from the architect to the Sisters are included in full length, as well as a series of photographs by Friederike von Rauch, offering an in-depth reading of this building on different levels.

VAi, Antwerp, 2017


Dom Hans van der Laan. Tomelilla.

Caroline Voet

This volume comprises an accurate case study of Mariavall, a Benedictine abbey in Tomelilla, Sweden, wherein monk, architect and theorist Dom Hans van der Laan examines the building, unravelling the design process in a step-by-step, detailed analysis, the likes of which have never before been published. Prior to his death, Van der Laan garnered worldwide acclaim for his comprehensive architectural theory, which has been translated into several languages and presents a doctrine of connections in the design of architectonic space.

Architecture & Natura, Amsterdam, 2016

English and Dutch

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