AccueilManaging the State, transforming the City. Office buildings for central State administrations as a "forgotten" type of political architecture (1880–1980)

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Publié le lundi 26 octobre 2015 par Elsa Zotian

Résumé

From the late XIXth century onwards, both the competence and scale of Ministerial departments and State-run corporations have increased continuously in Western countries. This growth – which accelerated after each World War, and became a truly global phenomenon in the second half of the XXth century – necessitated the construction of large and well-equipped office buildings, which were often grouped together in the "administrative districts" of capitals and other major cities. 

Annonce

Argument

From the late 19th century onwards, both the competence and scale of ministerial departments and state-run corporations have increased continuously in Western countries. This growth – which accelerated after each World War, and became a truly global phenomenon in the second half of the 20th century – necessitated the construction of large and well-equipped office buildings, which were often grouped together in the ‘administrative districts’ of capitals and other major cities. Yet, despite their relative prominence in many townscapes, governmental office complexes have rarely been studied by historians. Often, these complexes have been considered ‘anonymous’ or ‘banal’, lacking the ‘representational’ qualities of better-studied types of state-sponsored architecture, such as parliaments or town halls. Although many government offices indeed resemble the generic corporate office buildings which were constructed by property developers, they are not necessarily devoid of ‘representational’ qualities. Some governmental office complexes have even been explicitly designed as self-confident manifestations of state power and modernity, and were meant to be recognized as such by the public. In a more general sense, one could argue that designs for governmental offices often reveal a tension between a longing for cost efficiency on the one hand (which is central to every public expenditure), and a longing for representativeness on the other hand. Interestingly, the architectural programme of government offices is usually determined by dedicated agencies, which are attached to the Public Works department. This raises the question how these agencies have ‘translated’ the demands of politicians and government administrations (concerning representativeness, size, employees’ comfort, and internal arrangement) into a cost efficient architectural programme.

For this session of the EAUH 2016 conference, we are looking forward to papers which tackle the history of office buildings (or ensembles) that have been designed for centralized state administrations, such as ministerial departments or headquarters of large state-owned corporations (e.g. railways or telephone companies), between roughly 1880 and 1980. Different spatial dimensions (interior, exterior, location in the urban fabric) can be taken under scrutiny, as well as the discourses that were created by architects, politicians, civil servants, administrative reformers, organisational experts, and the public in relation to these buildings. We are very interested in contributions which reveal the aforementioned tension between economy and representation, and which emphasize how different actors in the architectural process have tried to resolve it. Moreover, papers in which a strong link is drawn between political, urban and/or architectural history are especially welcomed. The geographical focus is global.

Submission guidelines

To submit a paper proposal, please create a user account on the abstract system.

Abstracts of paper proposals should not exceed 300 words.

Start of paper proposals submission: June 15, 2015

Deadline for paper proposals submission: October 31, 2015

Notification of paper acceptance: December 15, 2015

Paper proposals and full texts can only by submitted online, via the EAUH2016 website https://eauh2016.net/.

The session organisers will decide on the contents of their session and will make the final selection of papers. The authors of the accepted paper proposals will be invited to submit the full text (max. 5000 words) to the abstract and paper system. The papers will be made available to all participants of the conference in a restricted web area.

Deadline for full text submissions: August 15, 2016

Conference : Helsinki/Finland, August 24-27, 2016

Scientific coordinators

  • Jens van de Maele (Ghent University)
  • Marnix Beyen (Antwerp University)
  • Shane Ewen (Leeds Beckett University)

Lieux

  • Helsinki, Finlande

Dates

  • samedi 31 octobre 2015

Mots-clés

  • architecture, politics, administration

Contacts

  • van de Maele Jens
    courriel : j [dot] vandemaele [at] ugent [dot] be

URLS de référence

Source de l'information

  • van de Maele Jens
    courriel : j [dot] vandemaele [at] ugent [dot] be

Pour citer cette annonce

« Managing the State, transforming the City. Office buildings for central State administrations as a "forgotten" type of political architecture (1880–1980) », Appel à contribution, Calenda, Publié le lundi 26 octobre 2015, http://calenda.org/340869