This workshop will introduce the concept of site-writing based on two locations in Rotterdam, Hof Van Noord and the Van Nelle Factory building.

Site-writing is the analysis of space based on the body’s perception. The term was coined by Jane Rendell in Site-Writing: The Architecture of Art Criticism (London: Bloomsbury, 2010.) The technique is centered on a heightened attention to embodiment. Rather than relying on abstract representations of space, or using tools that distance the body from the final drawings, this method asks students to center their awareness of spatial design in the senses.

The first part of the workshop will be led by Yoeri Guepin, a visual artist based in Rotterdam who has a plot in the community garden . A community garden is considered a grid with plots of land assigned to different amateur gardeners. Guepin’s artistic practice challenges that spatial idea by conceptualizing the surface of the earth as a volume containing myriad interdependent microcosmic universes. Guepin will give a short introduction to his work on bacterial microcosms, then lead students through an examination of the different soil conditions present in the garden.

The second part of the workshop will begin with a guided tour of the Van Nelle Factory, which was built between 1925 and 1931 in the International Style of modern architecture, influenced by Russian constructivism. The Van Nelle Factory is a Dutch national monument and was granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2014. In many ways, it is the spatial inverse of the garden: built-to-order to process tea, coffee, and tobacco grown in Indonesia and other Dutch colonies before being shipped to Rotterdam, the space was designed to package and standardize agricultural products for mass consumption.

This workshop is led by guest tutor Natasha Marie Llorens, a writer and curator based in Stockholm where she is Professor of art and theory at the Royal Institute of Art.


image courtesy of Yoeri Guepin