The Animated Wall: A Fragile Vigour

Saar Meganck

This film is part of series of posts of selected papers from the study symposium at Shatwell Farm, hosted by Drawing Matter and convened by KU Leuven and TU Delft on 27 and 28 April 2023. More about the symposium, and other films and written papers, can be found here.

A drawing is not an artefact of closed thinking. In the act of re-reading, re-drawing, and re-experiencing, a transcription arises. In its form and technique—black and red ink and black, brown and pink washes on woven paper—this sketch of Charles Rohault de Fleury narrates a distinct idea in which the gravity of ‘building’ evaporates. The spaces are designed as a set of shades, textures, colours, and ornaments on the flat surface. A paper-thin stretched layer on a sheet that stages the wall as the protagonist in a sequence of experiences. What perspectives can we unlock from a close reading of a drawing that acknowledges the animated wall as a fragile vigour in the built? Re-imagining the surfaces in this drawing take on their individuality through an attentive build-up of layers. This layering is not a univocal representation of illumination and shadow, but seems to capture the experience. What can we derive from the technique this draughtsman deploys with the repetition of ‘washes’ on top of another as layers of intensity? The hue seems to impregnate (imprégner/pregnant) the paper with intentions by repeating the touch. The Dutch poet Lucebert (1924–1994) almost seems to paraphrase this in the poem ‘The Very Old Sings’ (1954): ‘The very old sings […] everything of value is defenceless, becomes rich in tangibility […] like the heart of time.’ Projecting this drawing highlights the role and power of the ‘added layer’ to a building. What methodologies can we distil from this drawing to revaluate and deploy a stratification in the act of building? Based on sustainability, we aim to demolish and rebuild as little as possible. In this, we reach for the creation of an intelligent solid carcass. The ‘animation of the wall’ as a layer of hue, chroma-composition, ornament, and texture can be the meaningful time-bound component, so that spaces lay themselves as a tangible and distinctive experiences (scenography) of the user. Where the structure is robust and timeless, the layer can excel as a defenceless ‘touch’ over and over again, a layer of time. Just therein lies its value and vigour. The drawing by Charles Rohault de Fleury can be viewed on Drawing Matter’s collection catalogue.


Saar Meganck studied civil engineering at Ghent University and together with David Dhooge and founded the office Dhooge & Meganck Architects. She teaches at Architecture Academy Maastricht (AAM) since 2018 and is also appointed as coordinator of theory at AAM since 2020. From October 2022, Saar began her PhD at KULeuven and AAM, with Prof. Caroline Voet and Prof. Wim van den Bergh, on The Animated Surface. On Materiality, Texture and Chroma-composition in Architecture.