Lecture (Dutch) about Louis Le Roy

21 March 2013

On 21 March, Piet Vollaard, director of architecture website Archined, gave a lecture about Dutch artist/gardener/philosopher Louis Le Roy, one of the main protagonists of the ‘Wild Gardening’ movement. Debra Solomon and Mariska van den Berg of Urbaniahoeve responded from their practice. This lecture officially opened the new Sphinxpark season.

The lecture \'Louis Le Roy: Fusion Nature-Culture\' was given by Piet Vollaard, director of architecture website Archined

Debra Solomon and Mariska van den Berg, respectively founder and project coordinator of Urbaniahoeve, responded from the perspective of their practice at Urbaniahoeve and explained the principles of permaculture. Debra Solomon currently realizes a project in the Sphinxpark together with students from United World College Maastricht.

Since the 1970’s, Dutch artist/gardener/philosopher Louis Le Roy (1924-2012) was one of the main protagonists in the so-called ‘Wild Gardening’ movement, which advocated the ‘natural’ growth of the garden. Although this movement was influential, it is not what makes his work relevant for present day city development. Far more interesting are his ideas - and his practice – on time-based development and the fusion of nature and culture.

A key project is the Ecocathedral on which he worked for more than thirty years. It started out as  a plot of land of a few hectares in the north of the Netherlands on which nature was allowed to get its course. After a few years, he let city services drop truckloads of refuse of paving stones and bricks. With this material he built structures - all by himself, all by hand - between the developing natural growth. This was done without a general plan, just by improvisation. After building and growing went on for many years, a fascinating ‘jungle’ interspersed with ‘Maya-like’ structures has developed.

The work of Le Roy  is very relevant for all the bottom-up participatory projects we witness today. His Ecocathedral, an ongoing project of nature-culture fusion,  can be seen as a metaphor for any free and evolutionary spatial project, including the city as a whole. His work is connected to Situationist notions and to Constants New Babylon;  it is an ecological project because it involves nature, but Le Roy himself always stipulates that it is not about sustainability, but about culture, about tapping into the reservoir of what he calls ‘free creativity’  of the people. Besides his work on the Ecocathedral, in the 70’s and 80’s Le Roy was involved in some of the earliest participatory projects in the Netherlands, France and Germany. The ones in the Netherlands are still ongoing. This in itself is remarkable.

Click here for more background information.

Date: Thursday 21 March
Time: 20h – 22h
Language: Dutch
Access: free
Venue: Bureau Europa, Timmerfabriek, Boschstraat 9, 6211 AS Maastricht

Saskia van Stein, artistic director of Bureau Europa, gave an introduction to the lecture.


Louis Le Roy

Piet Vollaard

Debra Solomon and Mariska van den Berg