General contractors (1870-1970). Principal actors within the Belgian construction industry

Jelena Dobbels, Inge Bertels, Ine Wouters

Research Architectural Engineering (ARCH)

Phd research, 2014-2018

This research project studies the contribution and position of general contractors in the Belgian construction industry from 1870 till 1970. Special attention will be given to the Brussels construction scene, but always placed within the broader Belgian and international context. The long-term perspective enables an in-depth study of these building actors in a period of rising industrialization and professionalization (1870-1910) as well as scientification and diversification of expertise (1945-1970). Within the field of Construction History other building actors as architects and engineers have already received a lot of research attention. Research on the position of general contractors however has only been initialized recently. This research project will therefore focus on:         
1) The contemporary contractors scene via key issues as the legal status, professional organization and position of general contractors in relation to architects and engineers.
2) A selection of case studies on Brussels-based contractors, placed within the broader context.
These research tracks will be addressed via diverse historical sources, both on an organizational level as well as on the level of the individual contractor(s firm).