François Schuiten was born in Brussels on 26 April 1959 into a family of architects. He was only just sixteen when his cartoons were published for the first time. He is mainly known for his ‘Les Cités obscures’ series which he made with his childhood friend Benoît Peeters. Each city is represented in a specific architectural style; the psychology of the characters and the story are strongly influenced by this. The albums have been translated into a dozen languages and won numerous awards.
Schuiten’s world, however, goes beyond the drawing board. He also keeps himself busy in architecture, theatre, television and cinema. He also designed the Hallepoort metro station in Brussels and the Arts et Métiers metro stop in Paris. He has recently overseen the scenographic design of the train museum in Schaerbeek (Brussels).
In 2003 François Schuiten described and illustrated his vision of the future for the Belval district, an industrial site which had been abandoned since the 1997 closure of its blast furnaces. “The architecture must be a tremendous technical feat which constantly surprises us. It must allude to certain things, outline and define, just like a plant. It will, in addition to a path which allows passers-by to walk quickly across the site, have shops, restaurants, offices, cultural centres and theatres. All of these spaces will form an organic whole with their immediate vicinity. They will always benefit from the power and the appearance of the area. At night, they will be fully lit up in a real mise-en-scène and according to a script, therefore allowing the emotion they carry in them to be expressed and reflected. When viewed from the outside, this large machine looks as if it has come to life again.”