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Architecture(s) of Global Governance

Title Architecture(s) of Global Governance
Supervisor(s) Sven Sterken, Dennis Pohl (TU Delft)
Campus BXL
Language EN
Studio or individual? Individual
Max number of students? Max 3 students


Description of the project:

Starting from the assumption that today, world problems can no longer 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 the internationalism of a bygone utopian idea(l) of a ‘world government’: a single world order based on a Western conception of power, democracy and policy making. Today the governance landscape ranges from political organizations such as G20, OPEC, African Union up to financial institutions such World Bank, the International Investment Bank, and the World Economic Forum.

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; or how ordinary buildings and conference venues are transformed to hold diplomatic summits or bilateral meetings. While the scope, format and outcome of the dissertation depends on the topic and the perspective from which it is dealt with, we expect a focused, case-based approach that enriches the historiographical and conceptual apparatus of the architectural field. Thus, students will be able to contribute to the research project currently being laid out by the promotors, the first results of which were a session at the 2022 EAHN Conference in Madrid and a theme issue of The Architectural Theory Review (forthcoming, 2023).

Expected output: written dissertation with or without (conceptual) design component

Study trip? (+ timing): With a view to devoting the second semester entirely to writing or designing, students are expected to carry out the required field or archival work during the Summer break or the first semester.

Reference for the image: National flags in front of the UN City in Vienna. Picture source: https://50yearsworldheritageconvention.wordpress.com/conflict-areas/global-governance/