Johan Verbeke (1962-2017)

It is with deep sadness and a sense of great loss that we have to report that Johan Verbeke passed away on Sunday August 6th 2017, at the age of 55.
As many, both in our community and beyond will know, Johan was energetically engaged in many organisations and activities. He was full Professor at the Faculty of Architecture, KU Leuven; former Head of the Department of Architecture Sint-Lucas, Hogeschool W&K; Head of the PhD school at Aarhus School of Architecture; Honorary Adjunct Professor at RMIT University; former President, Vice-president, and Treasurer of eCAADe; council member of EAAE; board member of ELIA; and founding member of ARENA.

But none of this adequately describes who Johan was; the list of the qualities that made him so admired and respected by all those he worked with is even longer than the list of posts and recognitions in the list above. He was deeply passionate with strong empathy, always eager for new knowledge and new ideas, and with a unique and insatiable appetite for stimulating and bringing together people. And those people were from all age groups, and all backgrounds.
Johan had a unique sensibility related to creative processes, and appreciated the great value of interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary activity. This particular passion took him from his original field of mathematics (PhD in 1991 at KU Leuven), followed by an MBA in Management (2003, Open University) to Architecture. In 2003 he became Head of School of Sint-Lucas, Hogeschool Wetenschap & Kunst in Brussels. From there he initiated many international research projects, conferences and workshops, all focussed in one way or another on the phenomenon of creative thinking. Those projects include AVOCAAD, {Accolade}, The Unthinkable Doctorate, Communicating (by) Design, Knowing (by) Designing, Impact by Designing, ADAPT-r (Architecture, Design, and Arts Practice Training-research), ARM, CA²RE… each of which has had a long standing impact on those involved and touched by the projects and their outcome.

Johan’s home base of Sint-Lucas, Brussels became also the home base of eCAADe. The council had its mid-year meetings hosted by Johan in Brussels. Johan was not only host, but also at different times, council member, treasurer, Vice-President, and President of eCAADe. But above all, he was a dear and constant friend.

Through all these roles and projects, Johan touched so many people with his great enthusiasm, visionary thinking and his energy. But above all, Johan was a very modest person, with a strong sense of what is right – in sum, he was a wise, warm, generous, inspiring and caring human being. It was these qualities that brought many people in the field together. And we thought it particularly appropriate that this obituary should be written jointly by a group of people who have worked with Johan; with us each contributing our own small section as our own acknowledgement of Johan’s passion for working together.
Our thoughts go with his family, we wish them much strength.