BOKRIJK SENGU, Building the craftsmanship of the future together

Bokrijk chose to collaborate on the craft WOOD with TAAT (Theatre as Architecture - Architecture as Theatre), a theatre and architecture collective that approaches projects from a DIT (Do-It-Together) principle. In this project, the architect is not the central figure for the design and realization of a timber structure; the basis here is the participating public and the manner of knowledge sharing.

From autumn 2015 until the summer of 2016, TAAT will implement ‘Bokrijk Sengu’ in association with five young designers from Flanders and the Netherlands: Bas Vrehen, Frederic Schobben, Jolien Naeyaert, Sylvie Hagens and Ward Delbeke (dRAW). In July 2016 Bokrijk Sengu was build in the Open air museum for visitors to see. In winter 2018 the wooden pavilion was transfered to the Verbeke Foundation.

What is Sengu?

Sengu is the name for a building ritual in Japan. Every 20 years a temple - including the Grand Shrine in the city of Ise - is rebuilt in exactly the same way. This happens next to the ancient temple, which serves, part by part, as an example. The information relates to construction methods, materials used and the spatial layout, which is stored in the physical presence of the existing temple construction. In that way, it is passed on from generation to generation and participant to participant. BOKRIJK SENGU takes that process of physical and mental knowledge and information sharing as a starting point to reflect on the future of craftsmanship, in the field of wood in a contemporary context.

Project objective

The main purpose of BOKRIJK SENGU was to make the knowledge transfer process possible in the context of the Open-Air Museum, and in which sustainable collaboration between designers, visitors and professionals would be the central theme. TAAT had experience in co-creating wooden constructions with public participation and a wide range of experts and students. The building package created for BOKRIJK SENGU is simultaneously an experiential installation and a provider of hands-on mediation between everyone involved in the project.


In the development of BOKRIJK SENGU, TAAT worked with five young Flemish and Dutch designers (Bas Vrehen, Frederic Schobben, Jolien Naeyaert, Sylvie Hagens and Ward Delbeke), with the goal to develop a spatial strategy using an open-source design process. In analogy with the process-driven approach in Japanese temple construction, TAAT has always focused on the ‘ritual’ connection with the materials and the various processes involved. And in that way, each design weekend (in total six - between November 2015 and July 2016) will offer emphasis on the how and why of each action (cutting, shaping, stacking, joining, building) so that the designers fully integrate into their design an awareness of the construction process in the here and now. The entire scheme and range of materials are also made 100% in Bokrijk.

The ultimate goal is to convey this awareness process, in all its aspects, to the visitors and participants on the 24 July 2016 construction day and going forward. 

Bokrijk Sengu – technical

The building principle of BOKRIJK SENGU is based on an 11 x 5 meter base grid divided into two zones. Zone A contains the starting form, a simple built-up volume with a strong experiential value, which serves as an example to motivate visitors to participate in the construction process. Zone B is completely empty at the start. On 24 July 2016, a construction team took on the challenge to move all building blocks from Zone A to Zone B and do that in a way that would create a new construction, and thus a new experience. The decision-making process for the new construction on field B was co-creative. Participants and designers used an instruction manual to achieve the new form.


Bokrijk Sengu's story does not end there. During the course of 2017, visitors will be able to view the building next to the Lommel-Kattenbos barn. Inside the barn, the creation process conveyed in words and images, and visitors have the opportunity to work on a miniature version. 

In winter 2018 the wooden pavilion was transfered to the Verbeke Foundation.