How about Belgium: the architecture of negotiation

In France, dictatorial administration governs; the architect’s pen is guided  by rules and regulations. In Belgium, dialogue is an art form that, from competition through to construction site, enables quality projects. A look at this approach that puts questions of form and style aside.

urban study Thurgaeurstrasse West, Zurich © 51N4E
urban study Thurgaeurstrasse West, Zurich © 51N4E

Attempting to describe architectural stereotypes of different countries is always a tricky exercise.
Publications often select and arrange the archi-tectural production they like in order to give some semblance of coherence. Swiss architecture, the Dutch school… the Catalan scene. In this concert of hypothetical nations caught between the blinkers of the critics, Belgium happily gets it right. In the light of audacious projects by V+ or DmvA, it would seem easy to attribute some relevant adjectives to the supposedly Belgian architecture: absurd, even surrealist. Such a thing would be well and truly absurd, even surrealist…

In those circumstances, should we continue to look for a common feature in the built forms? Should we lead a quest to find the Belgian style? Probably not. “Belgian architects are not about image,” says Chantal Dassonville, Director of the Architecture Committee of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation. To understand the situation you need to look at the administrative mechanisms for selecting architects.

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