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(21-22) The Architecture of Global Governance

Title: The Architecture of Global Governance.

Tutor(s): Sven Sterken (+ Dennis Pohl, TU Delft/KTH Karlsruhe)

Master dissertation: sem: 3 + 4, 21-22

Engagement: Legacies

Also part of The Brussels Way or open for Interior Architecture?: open for Interior Architecture

Language: EN

Campus: Brussels/Ghent

Individual master dissertation, max 3 students

(Image: European Central Bank, Coop Himmelblau, 2014)

During the past century, states have increasingly become subordinate to intergovernmental organizations. Initially, the seats of such bodies, like the Permanent Court of Arbitration (The Hague), the League of Nations (Geneva), and the UN (New York) gave rise to high architectural aspirations. Values such as peace, cooperation and solidarity were intended to foster a new architectural idiom expressing political power beyond the established registers of nationalism, democracy, and separation of powers. Today, institutions such as NATO, WTO, and IMF constitute a global governance that relies on non-hierarchical steering mechanisms. Being non-elected bodies for the most part, these organizations exist in the public imagination predominantly as abstract acronyms. They are generally housed in corporate-like buildings that corroborate the popular idea that global governance requires gigantic bureaucratic machines that are of little architectural interest. The recent inauguration of the vast NATO headquarters in Brussels painfully illustrated this, for it went unnoticed in the architectural press. Thus, the architecture of global governance not only constitutes a political problem, it also is a design issue that challenges both architectural criticism and historiography.

Starting with the assumption that these transnational political constructs require new and imaginative forms of identification, this master dissertation interrogates the capacity of architecture to provide spaces for representing such bodies at the global scale. To this end, we welcome students interested in investigating built, unrealized, or theoretical projects for the seats of supranational or intergovernmental organizations across times and continents. Dissertations may focus, for example, on how political values are visually expressed through built form; address such buildings as theatres of diplomacy and explore how they accommodate the rituals of consultation, lobbying, and decision making. Other angles of investigation are how complex bureaucratic machinery is organized in terms of offices, translation boots, and meeting rooms; or how the interface between bureaucratic acts, political leaders, and the public is shaped and exploited. We especially welcome contributions considering non-Western international organizations (e.g. the Non-Aligned Movement and All-African Peoples Conference).

The research should result in a carefully designed document that, through an intelligent combination of drawings, images and text, discusses in depth one particular case (of your choosing). The precise type and aspect of this document will be discussed along with the progress of the research. Successful students will be given the opportunity to participate in the tutors’ session about this topic at the next EAHN conference in Madrid, 2022. (see here)