“Tout le Congo est un chantier”. Re-assessing Congo’s architectural history from 1918 till 1975 through a construction history approach

October 2015 to September 2022
colonial and postcolonial history
colonial and postcolonial architecture
urban history
Université de Kinshasa (Congo-Kinshasa)
Research fields
Arts and Architecture
Social Sciences

In recent years, (post)colonial architecture in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has become a topic of scholarly interest, with the perspective of scholarship shifting from an approach focusing on issues of style and form to studies of the “politics” of (post)colonial architecture or the shaping of urban landscapes. Most of the current research, however, still puts the architect at the center of the investigation.

This project shifts that focus by approaching the built production in the DRC from a Construction History-perspective. By scrutinizing the role of three major building agents (the Public Works Department of the Ministry of Colonies, the Office du Transport du Congo and the Belgian construction firm Blaton), we will develop an alternative architectural history of Congo focusing on a number of new critical themes: the introduction of new concrete technologies, the influence of transnational networks of building expertise and the organization of building labor.