Bruges may be best known for its centuries-old stepped-gable structures edging cobblestoned streets and narrow canals, and for its urban squares enclosed by idiosyncratic Gothic and Flemish Renaissance buildings. Nonetheless, the small Belgian port has produced at least one architecture firm that leans not to the earthy romanticism of the medieval picturesque, but to the transcendent romanticism of the Modern Movement.
Benny Govaert and his partner, Damiaan Vanhoutte, who founded a practice in Bruges in 1989, have adhered to the crisp geometries of modern pioneers such as Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier since their architectural studies at the Higher Architecture Institute in Ghent. “We also love Richard Neutra's and Rudolf Schindler's California houses in the Hollywood era,” adds Vanhoutte. In recent years the two architects have attracted attention for their poured-concrete, low-rise, rectilinear volumes found in the D-Hotel in nearby Marke (2009), and the award-winning visitors center for the World War I Tyne Cot Cemetery (2008), near Ypres.