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        • Other Modernities
          Observations about a North-West-European Architecture

        Abstract

        Belgian mid-twentieth century architecture is unsettling. In the post-war years large infrastructural projects descended upon existing cities, ripping apart historic ensembles and neighbourhoods – this, ironically, in a country that had experienced traumatic destruction in 1914–1918, but the physical fabric of which had been left relatively unscathed by the Second World War. After 1945, modernity came in the form of the engineers who were responsible for the new network of roads, tunnels and viaducts crushing through the city. Above the tunnels and metros and along the new inner city motorways, new buildings emerged that featured curtain walls and other ‘modernist’ elements that, however, remain thumbnails attached to buildings that seem otherwise fairly untouched by modern principles. The article examines the conditions under which architecture developed in the course of the twentieth century and a range of types of modernity (which often are reactions to modernisation) that seem particular to Belgium: unsolicited, attenuated, crafted, questioned. The modern architecture that emerged in twentieth-century Belgium is different from other modern architec- tures in North-West Europe in its absence of strident rhetoric. It wishes to fit in, in a society as well as in a city, and it does so with proficiency, artistic and artisanal spirit.



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        Citation
        Grafe, C. (2014). Other Modernities. Observations about a North-West-European Architecture. Codes and Continuities, OASE, (92), 150–155. Retrieved from https://www.oasejournal.nl/en/Issues/92/OtherModernities

        Download PDF (559 KB)

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