Olevodroom Pavilion / Decoratelier Jozef Wouters

Text description provided by the architects. Standing on the empty construction site of a future performance hall, the ‘Olevodroom’ is a reconfiguration of a cycling track that occupied the site since 2021. Commissioned by the City of Leuven and Arts Centre 30CC to build something that would bridge past and future, we decided to use both. From the velodrome, we repurposed all the wood without cutting any boards, challenging ourselves to find a new shape within an existing one. Pallet racks, reclaimed from an old warehouse and painted in bright colors, were inserted as a support structure that allows the curves of the velodrome to bend and swirl freely, seeking a new shape that invites and shelters. The shape reminds us of the crater of an extinct volcano. We were looking for a simple gesture, a movement, like an embrace, that marks a spot where anyone can hang out at any time.

Olevodroom Pavilion / Decoratelier Jozef Wouters - Exterior Photography
Olevodroom Pavilion / Decoratelier Jozef Wouters - Image 19 of 22

In large part, the Olevodroom was designed while building. Rather than drawing everything in detail beforehand, we enjoy making decisions and finding solutions on the spot, as in a life-size scale model. That way the construction becomes a conversation of materials and desires pushing into each other like tectonic plates. We love tracing the fault lines, the way the steel cuts into the wood. That is why we always have to build our designs ourselves. During the construction of the Olevodroom, we decided intuitively which side should be open or closed, building a careful balance between being seen and being sheltered.

Olevodroom Pavilion / Decoratelier Jozef Wouters - Image 7 of 22

The fact that we built the Olevodroom in Leuven made it a personal journey as well, evoking memories from the city Menno and I grew up in. One kept coming back: the story of Olivio Versluys, a boy who, fourteen years ago, climbed the facade of the university library and fell to his death. The story of ‘Olijf’, as his friends still call him, lingers throughout the design. It inspired us to build a meeting place for youngsters to get together, to hang and flirt. We tried to turn the memory of Olivio into an active memorial that also raises questions. How much support do youngsters need? How much institutionalization is necessary? By dedicating the Olevodroom to Olivio, we want to help the city of Leuven acknowledge that youth culture will always exist mainly in the margins and in the grey zone of what is considered legal and safe.

Olevodroom Pavilion / Decoratelier Jozef Wouters - Exterior Photography
Olevodroom Pavilion / Decoratelier Jozef Wouters - Image 8 of 22
Olevodroom Pavilion / Decoratelier Jozef Wouters - Image 20 of 22

As a training space for parkour and hip hop, the Olevodroom offers grip to climb, to dance, and to be seen, but – even more crucial – to be out of sight. We dedicate this construction to the energy of young people such as Olivio, who, generation after generation, search for space where they can do their thing, fearless, and sometimes reckless. They are the guides who show us that there is space between the rules.

Olevodroom Pavilion / Decoratelier Jozef Wouters - Image 9 of 22

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *