Construction History, Above and Beyond. What History Can Do for Construction History

This research project is funded through the EOS programme (jointly financed by FWO and FNRS to promote collaborations between researchers from the Flemish and French-speaking community).

Since 1985, Construction History is internationally recognized as a distinct field within history, situated on the interface between the history of engineering and the history of architecture. Antoine Picon, historian of architecture and technology, argued in 2006 that construction history “offers a unique opportunity to rethink the relations between technology and culture." This proposal starts from the observation that this opportunity has not yet been grasped in its full potential. Thanks to the state-of-the-art of Construction History research in Belgium, and the interest it currently arouses among other academic fields, we can build a strong case to unveil the untapped potential of Construction History as an ‘inter’disciplinary link between various fields in history.
In this project, we propose to set up a dialogue (in terms of sources, methodologies, concepts and cognitive interests) between Construction History and three other fields of history, namely Colonial History, Legal History and Planning History. As such, we aim to strengthen the historical dimension of Construction History, while simultaneously demonstrating its relevance and potential to other fields and disciplines. The project will concentrate on 19th and 20th -century building knowledge and building practice in Belgium and its former colony, with particular attention for tacit knowledge, in order to voice crucial yet underrated actors, sources and types of knowledge.