8. Blandijn




As you arrive at the Faculty of Philosophy and Arts, you have walked into the post-war university: an era of democratization, consolidation and grey construction. Dozens of post-war university buildings will help determine the cityscape, but are architecturally much less challenging than their predecessors. Blandijn, for instance, can hardly be called the most inspiring building in the university.

However, it is Henry van de Velde himself who initiates its construction. He draws a magnificent complex that looks out onto St. Peter's Square, forming a whole with the Book Tower. But the university is changing faster than Van de Velde can draw. After 30 years of bureaucratic ordeal, he gives up, disappointed, and leaves pen and table to his students.

This building in glazed clay tiles is the result. The covered entrance is the only architecturally interesting feature. But the Blandijn does not need prestige, as it is an important part of the university all the same. The central location, the large lecture theatre, the proximity of the Students’ Union and the Faculty of Arts turn Blandijn into a congenial centre of student activity. The major part of the building’s fame stems from its being a centre of student protests in the turbulent 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. The Blandijn building is repeatedly smeared, occupied and even besieged. It develops a reputation for being "the Cuba of Ghent”.

Next stop: Overpoortstraat

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