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(22-23) The Architecture of Global Governance

The Architecture of Global Governance
Individual Master Dissertation 2022-23
Supervisors: Sven Sterken (& Dennis Pohl, TU Delft)
Campus: Brussels
Language: EN
Max. 3 students

Description of the project: 

Starting from the assumption that today, world problems can no longer only be dealt with by sovereign states alone and therefore necessarily involve supranational institutions, transnational networks of experts as well as multinational corporations, one can rightfully ask how this condition of ‘global governance’ affects architectural design, criticism and historiography. How can architecture, in the broad sense of the term, express, support, instrumentalize, influence, contest, … the processes of global governance, and how can its theoretical and historiographical framework assume the fundamental shifts they engender? In such a context, canonical examples such as the Peace Palace in The Hague, The League of Nations Building in Geneva or the UN headquarters in New York can no longer serve as a model, for they embody a bygone utopian idea(l) of a ‘world government’: a single world order based on a Western conception of power, democracy and policy making. 

With a view to mapping this new condition’s specific challenges in terms of design, historiography and critique, we welcome students with strong intellectual capacities, design skills and a passion for writing that are eager to study built, unrealized, or theoretical architectural projects for, or by intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) across the continents and periods. Possible topics include the study or design of the seat of a particular IGO in relation to its bureaucratic procedures; the impact on local architectural production of development, economic, technical or humanitarian aid programs; the spatial or aesthetic expression of an IGO’s ideological, political or technical bias; etc. The scope, form and outcome of the dissertation will be jointly determined in function of the research questions. The principal requirement is that the dissertation goes beyond the descriptive and the analytical, as to enrich the conceptual and critical apparatus of the broader field.  Thus, students will be able to contribute to the research project currently being laid out by the promotors, the first results of which are a session at the 2022 EAHN Conference in Madrid (see here) and a theme issue of The Architectural Theory Review in 2023 (see here).   

Expected output: cf. above  

References/Further reading: 

  • Jenks, Wilfred, The Headquarters of International Institutions. A Study of their Location and Status. Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1945 
  • Karns, Mingst, Stiles, International Organizations. The Politics and Processes of Global Governance. Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2015 (Third Edition). 
  • Kuntz,Joëlle, Genève Internationale. 100 ans d’architecture. Genève: Editions Slatkine, 2017. 
  • Muldoon James P Jr., The Architecture of Global Governance. An Introduction to the Study of International Organizations. Bloomsbury, 2004 

Image: NATO Headquarters, Brussels (arch. SOM/ASSAR, 2017)