How do we define an institution? What can institutions mean today and in the future? How does architecture play a role in the establishment, identification and perpetuation of these social structures? These are a series of questions raised by architecture students of LOCI Faculty of UCLouvain, invited by BNP Paribas Fortis to participate in its bicentenary.
For 200 years now, the history of the bank headquarters, located at no. 3 Rue Montagne du Parc, has followed the history of the Brussels institutions in a surprisingly faithful manner. Leaving aside the grey energy expended over the course of these successive reconstructions, the institution has now taken up the challenge of constructing new sustainable and passive Headquarters anchored in the city. We also see that the institution has taken an interest in the same challenges as its neighbours, including the relation between the upper, official part of the city and the lower, more trade-oriented part.
In Brussels, the natural topography has indeed been used to establish power relations. Political, judicial and religious institutions were quickly established on the heights, sheltered from the waters and the moods of the people. In the 19th century, a system of roads gradually took shape. In this way, the Royal Route was drawn, corresponding to the ridgeline of the Senne and Maelbeek valleys. The exhibition Institutions & the City: The Role of Architecture explores the strategies put in place over time by various institutions installed on the Royal Route, to inscribe themselves durably in the country’s social order.
Based on the graphic production and reflections of architecture students from LOCI – UCLouvain, this exhibition proposes a multi-layered examination. It reveals the way institutions function as well as similar spatial responses and surprisingly common processes of change. It emerges clearly that architecture can help to create new relations with institutional spaces and that these in turn can help to improve community relations at a time when social, political and cultural reference points are being reconsidered as they become more diverse.
Exhibition: Institutions & The City: the role of architecture 17/9/2022-13/11/2022
BNP Paribas Fortis head office
Entrance via 3 rue des Douze Apôtres in 1000 Brussels.
Open Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. > 6 p.m. FREE ENTRANCE.