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

Contact Rika Devos
Research fields and keywords


Project team

Jens Van De Maele (historian, doctoral researcher at UGent), with project promoters: prof. dr. Johan Lagae (UGent, main promoter); prof. dr. Rika Devos (ULB); prof. dr. Marnix Beyen (UA); prof. dr. Pierre-Alain Tallier (ULB and State Archives)

Belgium builds (1918-1969)

From 1830 onwards, 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, 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.


FWO funded project 2012-2016