PhD scholar (100%) PhD project Corporate Office Interiors in Post-war Belgium: a Genealogy of a M...

KU Leuven
September 19 2017
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

The Science, Engineering & Technology Group of KU Leuven, Department of Architecture, research unit Architecture and Society is looking for an assistant to join the research group Architecture, Interiority, Inhabitation (A2I) on the campuses of Sint-Lucas Ghent and Brussels. The candidate is expected to obtain a PhD degree. The Department of Architecture is responsible for the research on Architecture, Interior Architecture, Urbanism and Spatial Planning at the Faculty of Engineering Sciences (campus Leuven) and the Faculty of Architecture (campuses Brussels and Ghent). The department is an international expertise center in these domains and houses some sixty international PhD-students.

The Faculty of Architecture groups the academic master programmes in Architecture (Interior Architecture, Architecture, Urbanism and Spatial Planning) of the campuses Sint-Lucas Brussels/Ghent. The faculty is responsible for the teaching activities.

The research group Architecture, Interiority, Inhabitation (A2I) - established by professors Hilde Heynen and Fredie Floré - interrogates the interaction between architecture as a discipline, built spaces as con... For more information see

Today many European cities, including Brussels and Antwerp are struggling with defining the future of long term unoccupied office buildings, most of them dating from the second half of the 20th century. Contemporary discussions on this problem largely focus on urban or architectural issues. While these issues are highly relevant, a third, related perspective is often marginalized or neglected: that of the office interior and its different conceptualizations and materializations. Nevertheless, this third perspective is a crucial key for understanding not only the conceptualization, but also the abandonment or redevelopment of office buildings. After all, office design, more than many other branches of the design practice, is decisively molded by bureaucratic practices and social, economic and political circumstances.

Contemporary literature on interior architecture identifies two major models of office organization and office design in the second half of the 20th century: the hierarchical Taylorist office - with Frank Lloyd Wright's Larkin Building (1904) as one of its earliest examples - and the social democratic office which emerged after the Second World War and explicitly values human interaction and community formation. While these transnational categories are useful for sketching a broad historical overview, a more refined and detailed frame of reference needs to be developed to tackle the variety of local corporate office cultures and their material expressions. The aim of this project is to develop such a framework for post-war Belgium, based upon historical research and taking into account different national and transnational discourses and design practices that influenced the formation of the modern corporate office as a bureaucratic, socio-economic and cultural space. As such it will allow for a better understanding of one of today's rapidly transforming collective interiors.

This job comes from a partnership with Science Magazine and Euraxess

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