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hortence is the Research Centre for architectural history, theory and criticism of the Faculty of Architecture La Cambre Horta of the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB). Established in 2008, hortence counts at present more than twenty members. The personality of hortence is characterized by its members – academics, researchers, PhD students and practising architects – who all engage critically with the history and theory of modern and contemporary architecture.

As such, hortence gathers distinct areas of research strength, in particular regarding
‣ heritage studies of 20th-century architecture in Belgium;
‣ the study of mediation in architecture;
‣ the history of architectural theory and criticism;
‣ the study of architectural pedagogies;
‣ research through and by architectural design;
‣ architecture and genre.

hortence also seeks as much as possible to enhance, diffuse and to question its research through the organization of workshops, conferences, colloquia, exhibitions as well as through publications. These activities of research and service to the community reflect the engagement of its members with teaching courses on the history, theory and criticism of architecture; a.o. the research seminar on research methodologies concerning architectural theory, the design studio HTC, and the study groups (“options”) HTC, Restoration and heritage DOCOMOMO and Archives.


The Rise of the Technocelebrity. The Politics of Social Expertise in the Public Careers of Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius

Pierre Jeanneret, the architect and the builder

Cousin and partner of Le Corbusier between the wars, then independent architect in the 1940s, and finally, from 1951, key figure in the planning and construction of the new city of Chandigarh in India, the architect Pierre Jeanneret (1896-1967) was a multi-faceted projector. His built work is remarkable both for the coherence of his approach and for the intelligence of the materialization strategies deployed. It is of exceptional size, supported by an unfailing social commitment on every scale, from furniture to the city.
Like Pierre Jeanneret’s theoretical contributions, his work as a whole is undoubtedly a major testament to the upheavals taking place in the discipline of architecture in the 20th century. Despite its importance, Pierre Jeanneret’s work has nevertheless been the subject of a difficult, even controversial reception: today it remains largely unexplored, erased – not to say crushed – by the worldwide fame of Le Corbusier and the gradual construction of the “Corbusian myth”.

Through the architectural and material study of his work over the long term, and with the scientific tools of the architect-historian, the research aims to produce a new and original knowledge of Pierre Jeanneret’s production, and thus fill in one of the important gaps in the history of architecture and construction in the 20th century. This research project is thus part of the current context of research in architectural history that goes beyond the canonical history of the major figures, always repeated, of modern architecture. Without any hagiographic temptation, the aim is to retrace the career of this “tireless researcher driven by a fierce independence”, as Jean Prouvé said, and to shed new light on him, which is both necessary and urgent.