BUREU: EU office buildings between architectural “hardware” and managerial “software”, 1950s-2000

15 Februar 2023

Research seminar with Jens van de Maele


The office building is one of quintessential architectural typologies of the twentieth century. Without any doubt, moreover, “the office” is one of the social institutions that has contributed to the formation and definition of modernity in the broad sense. Yet remarkably, historical research has only recently begun to pick up on the office building and its corresponding “office cultures”. In this seminar, I will explore some recent historiographical approaches, including Delphine Gardey’s notion of the office building as a “technical-organisational complex”. For Gardey, the office is characterised by an interplay of architectural/technical infrastructures (the “hardware”) on the one hand, and normative ideas on the occupants’ behaviour (the “software”) on the other hand. This combined focus on both architecture and its managerial determinants is also at the heart of the ongoing BUREU project. 

Having started in 2022, BUREU is a transnational research project (C²DH / University of Leuven) that aims to expand our knowledge of office buildings, their planning, and their usage. It does this through a series of case studies on EU institutions in Brussels and Luxembourg. This way, BUREU also aims to contribute to existing scholarship on “hidden integration” processes in Europe. Besides sketching the project’s general research aims, I will also provide some tentative research results on the European Investment Bank and its late-1970s headquarters on Kirchberg.


Wednesday, 15 February 2023

14.00 - 15.00

C²DH Open Space