Research Project
The Global Turn: A New Architectural History of the Post-War Period (1945–1989)

Research Project
Tom Avermaete, Michelangelo Sabatino
Since 2017

Though architecture had been for a long time embedded in a set of global economic, political and social connections, the scale, intensity and density of global encounters and collaborations gained momentum after 1945. Following advances in transportation and communication technologies, but also as a result of a major geopolitical restructuring of the world through processes of decolonisation, the emergence of the so-called “Third World” and the Cold War, unprecedented movements of people, goods, ideas and labour emerged. These intensified processes of “globalisation” and the resulting “flattened world” (Osterhammel) had a fundamental and structural impact on the way that the built environment was conceived, constructed, used and experienced.

The canonical architectural historiographies of this period, however, remain as largely characterised by a focus on single actors, single nations or regions, and formal or typological categories. Against this background, the project aims to construct a new history of architecture and urban design in the post-war period, based on the assumption that the built environment can be understood as a complex negotiation with new regimes of the circulation of (1) experts, (2) knowledge, (3) goods and commodities, (4) people, (5) technologies, and (6) labour that characterise the post-war period.

The project holds that these “regimes of circulation” posed new challenges to the discourses and practices of modern architecture and urban design, and initiated substantial innovations. This research aims to open a new historical perspective on post-war architectural culture that potentially accounts for its global and negotiated character, and to simultaneously develop a fresh theoretical and methodological framework for its investigation.


Prof. Dr. Tom Avermaete