Rotor: Reverse Architecture

Lionel Devlieger presents the firm's multifaceted work.

April 20, 2021
12:30 p.m.

Rotor | Interiors designed and built by Rotor for the social housing company ‘Zonnige Kempen’ in Westerlo, Belgium, 2020. Credit: Frédéric Uyttenhove

Current Work is a lecture series featuring leading figures in the worlds of architecture, urbanism, design, and art.

The spring 2021 Current Work series examines some of the inherited histories, conventions, fabrics, and systems—often taken for granted—that constitute and shape the built environment. How might we reconsider the ways we engage with and construct the places that surround us? Speakers will address issues including transforming architectural pedagogy; protecting threatened historic sites; conserving resources by adapting existing buildings and reusing materials; and reimagining and regenerating places scarred by racism, neglect, and environmental emergencies.

Brussels-based Rotor was founded in 2006 as a research and design practice that “investigates the organization of the material environment.” In 2016, the firm launched Rotor Deconstruction, a cooperative that organizes the reuse of construction materials through the dismantling, processing, and trading of salvaged building components. 

Recent projects include:

  • Zonnige Kempen, an office interior and refurbishment with reused components for a social housing company in Westerlo, Belgium.
  • Multi, an ongoing circular consultancy for a large-scale office building renovation in the city center of Brussels. 
  •, a digital platform mapping small and medium-sized enterprises in Northwestern Europe active in the refurbishing and sale of second-hand building components.

Rotor cofounder Lionel Devlieger is a researcher, designer, educator, and exhibition maker. His work focuses on the material implications of contemporary culture, especially in the realm of architecture. Devlieger has taught architecture at UC Berkeley, TU Delft, Columbia University, and London’s AA School. He has curated and designed, with Rotor, exhibitions on architecture and material culture, and in 2018 coauthored Deconstruction et reemploi, a reference textbook on building component reuse.

The lecture will be followed by a conversation and Q&A moderated by Paul Lewis, partner at LTL Architects, professor and associate dean at Princeton University School of Architecture, and president of The Architectural League of New York.

This event is organized by The Architectural League of New York and co-presented with The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union.


This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.