Allies in architecture? WWI and the Americanisation of Belgian Architecture (1914-1928).

Project Details

Description

In 1918, Belgian architects faced daunting challenges: an enormous task of postwar reconstruction and a nationwide lack of housing were aggravated by a catastrophic economic situation. American architecture arose as a source of inspiration. Globally known for its commercial drive, technical ambition and cost efficiency, it offered solutions to Belgium’s architectural crisis. This research proposal aims to explore how the Belgian architectural field welcomed or rejected this ‘Americanisation’ as a model for postwar reconstruction and innovation. It will examine how Belgian-American architectural collaboration arose during and after WWI, and how these collaborations had a more lasting impact on Belgian postwar architecture. The focus lies on the first decade after the war (19181928), with wartime friendships and alliances fresh. A broad network of actors with diverse goals is considered: individual architects, architectural associations, pressure groups, philanthropic foundations, politicians, contractors and investors. The scrutiny of contemporary manuscripts, plans, magazines, exhibitions and lectures will reveal how the encounter with American architecture forced Belgian architects to question and redefine their attitudes and practices in relation to similar evolutions elsewhere in Europe. Providing this answer will enrich Belgian architectural history, enhancing our understanding of the mechanisms at play in international architectural exchange.
AcronymFWOTM1020
StatusActive
Effective start/end date1/11/2030/11/22

Keywords

  • Architectural history
  • International exchange
  • Americanisation and Belgian architecture

Flemish discipline codes

  • Architectural heritage and conservation
  • Architectural practice
  • Architectural design history and theory
  • History of art
  • Architectural history and theory