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Title: The Antwerp (stair) case: how a modernist architect staged his educational and ideological programme
Authors: COUCHEZ, Elke 
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Informa {UK} Limited
Source: PAEDAGOGICA HISTORICA, 53 (6) , p. 799 -826
Abstract: This paper looks at the educational project of Belgium's acclaimed socialist and modernist architect Renaat Braem (1910-2001). While Braem is foremost remembered as a militant opinion maker, his work as an educator and an artist has received little scrutiny. When Braem was appointed interim director at the Antwerp National Higher Institute for Architecture and Urban Planning (NHIBS) in 1962, his first action point was not to change the curriculum. He instead reconstructed the physical configuration of the school. With an eye-catching staircase painting, he accentuated an important passage in the school building: the one from the administrative offices and library to the architectural studios. Claiming a central position in the institute, the staircase functioned as a stage and an auditorium on which an ideological and educational programme was enacted in an implicit, yet very physical manner. This article not only looks at what the painting represents, but also at how it represents by applying Randolph Starn's three categories of seeing: the glance, the measured view, and the scan. This threefold reading of the painting enables us to unpack (a) Braem's educational project based on a socialist ideology and (b) the institutional climate of the 1960s. In the institutional debates, hovering between tradition and the rationalisation of education, Braem's staircase painting proposed a third way. It revised the existing doctrines by reconciling the rational approach with a stronger focus on the human in the built environment.
Keywords: Architectural education;visual culture of the school;staircase painting;staging knowledge
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ISSN: 0030-9230
e-ISSN: 1477-674X
DOI: 10.1080/00309230.2017.1391853
ISI #: WOS:000417613600011
Category: A1
Type: Journal Contribution
Appears in Collections:Research publications

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