Belgium builds (1918-1969). Strategies, networks and discourses in/on the production of Belgian State architecture

01 January 2012 → 31 December 2017
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Architectural design
    • Architecture
    • Art studies and sciences
    • Interior architecture
  • Engineering and technology
    • Architectural engineering
    • Architecture
    • Interior architecture
network historic architecture Belgium
Project description

From 1830 on, the Belgian State has been an important commissioner for a variety of
architectural complexes to accommodate and represent its central authorities and services.
Although these complexes occupy an important position in the urban landscape of Belgian cities,
they are still largely omitted from the historiography of both Belgian architecture and politics.
This project investigates the networks of production and discourses underlying Belgian State
architecture, as well as the resulting buildings during the phases of planning, construction and
functioning, in the period 1918-1969. Drawing on hitherto unstudied archival material,
particular focus will be given to the notion of authorship, by mapping the intricate relationships
of commissioners, designers and contractors. This research thus challenges Belgian political and
architectural historiography, in which the executive administrations, important intermediates in
these building processes, have remained largely unstudied. Confronting architectural historical
analyses with the study of contemporary political and economic contexts, and using the context
of the Belgian Congo as a “mirror case”, this project seeks to investigate not only to what extent
this built production is related to issues of nationality, identity and representation, but also how it
allows for a better understanding of the act of governance in the Belgian context.