One of the “Mobile Home” project: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The AVL-Ville

Flag of AVL-Ville

Day One: Design and Alternative Process

Joep van Lieshout
(of Atelier van Lieshout, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)


In the presentation, Joep van Lieshout showed a series of his projects. This wide range of works demonstrates his ideal community of autarky. Van Lieshout materializes his unique imagination of community through the combination of communal intervention with artistic imagination.

Van Lieshout started his pursuit with his well-known work of “mobile homes” in which one can live independently from the outside world, with the minimum influence from the outside, and relies entirely on its own recourses. Van Leishout expresses his specific critique on urban living as well as his sense of humor in this series of works.

Van Lieshout then showed his development on this idea. He extended this autarkist statement from also somehow autarkist art scene to grounded real life. In 2001, AVL realized AVL-Ville, a free state in the harbors of Rotterdam. On a piece of land requested from the Mayer of Rotterdam under the purpose of building an "open-end museum", van Lieshout explored different elements of a community into every detail. AVL-Ville has its own flag, its own constitution and its own currency. Van Lieshout had also designed the money notes for the AVL-Ville. Of course, the icons chosen to be glorified would not be the usual candidates one would expect. It was a harmonious and self-supporting enterprise with a motto “as long as it's art, just about anything is possible”. The free state that everything was possible set a powerful contrast against our present-day over regulated society. In AVL-Ville, art was produced on a daily basis: ranging from its own food and energy to its own houses, objects and mobile buildings. Unfortunately AVL-Ville was forced to close down after a year.

But van Lieshout’s pursuit was not stopped, he transferred this interests in investigating possibility of urban living into other projects. At the end of the presentation, he showed some of the most current works that AVL is developing.  Large-scale architectural units, such as Bar Rectum, and the Wombhouse.
In different regimes and scales, van Lieshout reimagined the community, those projects proposed new possibilities of urban living. Instead of being free float imagination, these works are pin-pointed critique on our societies.



Joep van Lieshout (Ravenstein, The Netherlands, 1963) studied at the Academy of Modern Art in Rotterdam, Ateliers 63 in Haarlem, and Villa Arson in Nice. In 1995, he founded Atelier van Lieshout (AVL) in Rotterdam to realise projects in the fields of architecture, design and contemporary art. His works cannot be categorised into one single discipline, since it crosses over the boundaries between these different fields.

Over the past decade AVL has made a vast amount of artworks, ranging from mobile homes, modular bathroom and kitchen units, to sculptures, furniture and other functional objects, mostly made of fibreglass in striking bright colours, which has become the AVL trademark.

A well-known project of AVL is the AVL-Ville in the harbour of Rotterdam that started in 2001. This temporary free state where everything was possible set a contrast against our present-day over regulated society, a theme that comes back in his more recent projects as well.


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