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The impact and position of technology and science in architecture and engineering (1940-1980)


Rika Devos 

Research fields and Keywords


Research collaborations


The impact and position of technology and science in architecture and engineering (1940-1980)

In the second half of the twentieth century, the world of building witnessed an unprecedented expansion with new materials, processes of organization and construction techniques, resulting from the new developments  in technology and science. Its impact was profound: technology and science not only influenced the production of buildings, but also their position in the various disciplines of building gained importance. They provided for greater efficiency and reliable control, but also offered an image to critically represent and analyse the new conditions in building, and in architecture. By the introduction of the new tools, change in professional profiles was triggered, and with it, critical positions on the impact and progress of technology and science in engineering and architecture arose. In both architecture and engineering the valuation of technology and science changed drastically over the period 1940-1980.

The research theme combines a triple focus, on:

(1) new means: studies into the new materials and techniques;

(2) changing profiles: critical evaluations of the changing roles of engineers, architects, builders and contractors;

(3) critical meanings: research into the questioning of authorship, collaboration, intentionality, values and ideals in design and building.

Selected publications

* Devos Rika, "Frei Otto et René Sarger: entre idéaux d'architecte et vérité d'ingénieur," in Fleury, F., Baridon, L., Mastrorilli, A., Mouterde, R., Reveyron, N., eds, Les temps de la construction. Processus, acteurs, matériaux: recueil de textes issus du Deuxième Congrès Francophone d'Histoire de la Construction, 29-31 janvier-1er février 2014 (Paris: Picard, 2016), 1079-1088.

* Devos Rika, Bernard Espion and Michel Provost, "La modernité d'après-guerre au volant: Wismeyer, d'Ieteren et Renault, des garages remarquables à Bruxelles (1949-1963)," Bruxelles Patrimoines 15-16 (septembre 2015): 92-101.

* Devos Rika and Marijke Mollaert, "A quest for early tensile structures at Expo 58," in Bowen, Br., Friedman, D., Leslie, Th. and Ochsendorf, eds., Proceedings of the Vth international congress on construction history, vol. I (Chicago: ICCH V, 2015), 591-600.

* Devos Rika, “Technology and science as tool and image. Questioning 'innovation' in construction at Expo 58,” Territorio 67 (2013): 76-82. ISSN 1825-8689.

* Devos Rika and Bernard Espion, “The hanging roofs of Expo 58: knowledge, prestige and ideals,” ICE - Engineering History and Heritage, vol. 165, n. 3 (2012): 187-196.

* Devos Rika, “Lights for Dazzle and Structure. The Lighting of Streets, Squares, Buildings and Exhibits at Expo 58,” in Eric Monin and Nathalie Simonnot, eds., L’Architecture lumineuse au XXe siècle. Luminous architecture in the 20th century (Gent: Snoeck, 2012), pp. 15-25.

* Devos Rika and Stephanie Van de Voorde, “Collaboration and rivalry at Expo 58: authorship in the building industries’ landmarks,” Structures and Architecture. Proceedings of the 1st International conference on Structures and Architecture (Boca Raton: CRC Press /Balkema, 2010): 1944-1951.

* Devos Rika and Fredie Floré, “Modern wood. De Coene at Expo 58,” Journal of the Construction History Society 24, (2009): 103-120.