• Léon Stynen, deSingel, Antwerpen, 1960. Architectuurarchief Provincie Antwerpen
Lecture and congress

Architecture and professionalism:

New approaches to the work of Léon Stynen and his international contemporaries
Thu, 07/12/2017 - 09:30 to Sat, 09/12/2017 - 18:00

Download here the conference booklet

The Architectural Archives of the Province of Antwerp and the Flanders Architecture Institute are hosting an international congress as a prelude to ‘Stynen Year’ in 2018. The Belgian architect Léon Stynen (1899-1990) epitomises an entire generation of post-war modernist architects whose oeuvres and profiles share many similarities. Typically these architects were part of a strong national and international network; up-to-date and knowledgeable; prolific and varied builders (which points to great ideological flexibility); consummate professionals; and able to access large-scale, highly visible commissions. The congress aims to promote an exchange on heritage approaches to the cultural legacy of architects who are similar in profile to Stynen and to establish a dialogue regarding similar figures and oeuvres from other European regions. This will provide new insights into, amongst other things, the impact of Le Corbusier, the way in which progressive American thinking influenced architecture (and the image of architecture), and the relationship between architecture and the economic growth of the service sector in post-war Europe (which led to a profusion of office buildings). In addition, it will shed light on the development of architectural education and the way in which architecture and construction companies joined forces in rationalizing the construction process.


The congress convenes on Thursday, 7 December, with a full day of presentations, followed by a keynote lecture by Prof. dr. Adrian Forty (Bartlett School of Architecture). The lectures continue the next morning, concluding at midday with a wrap-up by Prof. dr. Miles Glendinning (University of Edinburgh). This will be followed by architectural visits planned for the afternoon of Friday, 8 December, and a post-congress tour provided by DOCOMOMO Belgium on Saturday, 9 December.

Listen to the keynote lecture by Adrian Forty and the talk afterwards with Tom Avermaete and Christoph Grafe


9:00 Registration
9:30 Welcome by dr. Sofie De Caigny (Flanders Architecture Archives) 
9:45 Introduction by Dirk Laureys (Architectural Archives of the Province of Antwerp)

10:00 Session 1 - Knowledge transfer and networks
Chair: Prof. dr. Lara Schrijver (University of Antwerp)

  • Dipl.-Ing. Elise Feiersinger (Österreichische Gesellschaft für Architektur), Togo Murano (1891-1984): “I don’t have a style as such”’
  • Dr. Monika Platzer (Architekturzentrum Wien), ‘Roland Rainer, a life steeped in history’
  • Serena Pacchiani (PhD candidate, Université libre de Bruxelles & University of Florence), ‘Out front and behind the scenes: The networking strategies of Marcello Piacentini (1881-1960) and Léon Stynen (1899-1990)’

     Pecha Kucha lectures

  • Dr. Godfried Kwanten (KADOC-KU Leuven), ‘Catholic Architects and Modernity: The collection of KADOC-KU Leuven, Documentation and Research Center on Religion, Culture and Society’
  • Dr. Ellen van Impe (CVAa) and Prof. Em. Luc Verpoest (KU Leuven), ‘Henry van de Velde: Letters of architects’ 

12:00 Lunch

13:30 Session 2 -  Canonisation and the forging of an international reputation
Chair: Prof. dr. ir. Christoph Grafe (Flanders Architecture Institute)

  • Irene Lund (PhD candidate, Université libre de Bruxelles & Katholieke Universiteit Leuven), ‘Léon Stynen and the architecture media’
  • Dr. Janina Gosseye (University of Queensland), ‘Léon Stynen, prophet or apostle?’
  • Prof. dr. Andres Kurg (Estonian Academy of Arts), ‘Western architecture in Soviet translation: Sovremennaya Arkhitektura – l’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui in the 1960s’

15:00 Coffee break

     15:30 Pecha Kucha lectures

  • Dr. Jeroen Cornilly (Provincial Archive West-Flanders/Provincial Library West-Flanders), ‘Het gekwetste gewest – Understanding reconstruction after WWI’
  • Prof. dr. ir.-arch. Rika Devos (ULB), ‘Missing links, corrections, contextualisations and misfits: some archival footnotes to the canon of Belgian architecture from the archival funds “Expo 58” and “Blaton”’ 
  • Dr. Janina Gosseye (University of Queensland) and Prof. dr. ir. Tom Avermaete (TU Delft), 'The Shadow Canon'

Prof. dr. Adrian Forty (Bartlett School of Architecture), ‘On Becoming a Modernist Architect’
Introduction by Prof. dr. ir. Christoph Grafe (Flanders Architecture Institute) 
Respondent Prof. dr. ir. Tom Avermaete (TU Delft)


9:30 Sessie 3 -  Contemporary approaches towards modernist architecture: Research, archives and public programmes
Chair: Prof. Em. Luc Verpoest (KU Leuven)

  • MSc Natalia Boura (Neohellenic Architecture Archives [N.A.A.] - Benaki Museum Athens), ‘From the collections of the Neohellenic Architecture Archives: Three contemporary Greek architects; two ways of looking at things’
  • Jens van de Maele (PhD candidate, Ghent University & University of Antwerp), ‘The Governmental Administrative Centre in Brussels (1955-1985): An efficiency-minded modernist office complex?’
  • Prof. dr. Antonello Alici (Università Politecnica delle Marche in Ancone), ‘Dagoberto Ortensi in the network of Italian architectural archives (1902-1975)’

     Pecha Kucha lectures

  • Ir. Edith Wouters (AR-TUR: the centre for architecture, urbanity and landscape in the Campine), ‘Archives as a catalyst in the Spatial Lab of Ar-tur’
  • dr. Sofie De Caigny (Flanders Architecture Archives), ‘Renaat Braem, 1910 2010: From the Archive to New Audiences’

11:30 Coffee break

12:00 WRAP UP by Prof. dr. Miles Glendinning (University of Edinburgh) followed by a discussion with Prof. dr. Lara Schrijver (University of Antwerp), Prof. dr. ir. Christoph Grafe (Flanders Architecture Institute) and Prof. Em.  Luc Verpoest (KU Leuven)

13:00 Lunch

14:30-17:00 Congress tour


9:00-19:00 Post-congress tour organized by DOCOMOMO Belgium 


DeSingel is an international arts campus integrating music, dance, theatre and architecture through exhibitions, performances and schooling. In this capacity it hosts the Conservatorium, Radio 2 and the Flemish Architecture Institute, VAi, among other offices. The building was designed in 1958 by Léon Stynen in collaboration with Paul De Meyer with an extension by Stéphane Beel added in 2007.

This congress is being generously supported by the cultural heritage department of the Flemish Government and aims to foster an international exchange of information about Léon Stynen and his contemporaries. It further wishes to address the preservation and interpretation of their buildings and archives from a contemporary perspective.

Extra information

Architectural Archives of the Province of Antwerp and the Flanders Architecture Institute
Muziekstudio, deSingel International Arts Campus, Jan Van Rijswijcklaan 155, 2018 Antwerp
Contact person: 
dr. Nina Serulus
0032 (0)3 242 89 70