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Robert van Dijk's personal portfolio website


2006 – Solitary Project – For Benedictine Monastery Mamelis, Mamelis, Netherlands

For this project, I spent a week in a monastery in the south of the Netherlands. My goal was to find out what made people enter the monastic life and investigate whether it was possible to improve their lives in any way. I spent four days living with the monks and experiencing their way of life, using shadowing and interviewing research techniques.

A monk cleaning the halls. Ritual and productivity are important aspects of Benedictine life.

In the end, this actually proved to be quite difficult, as the benedictine monastic life is very much focused on a minimalist lifestyle. There was however the possiblity to create a ritual with the light in the church. I decided to design a new interface for the monks to control the lighting in their monastic church. I adressed issues such as symbolism in design, minimalism and the role of the rituals in the masses.

The main hall of the church, designed by Van Der Laan.

On a panel the atmosphere of the church could be set and stored in objects that could be carried to  the areas where the monks prayed and where this setting could be activated.

The basic solution that was available. This system allowed for a lot of improvement in terms of ritual, usability and to a certain extent even spiritual meaning.

One of the storage blocks. This was part of a larger system where the lighting ritual could be ' programmed' and animated during the masses,

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