The House of Politics - AA Visiting School Brussels

In AAVS Brussels you will experiment with film with the cutting edge film director Luis Cerveró. Film will be addressed as a critical instrument to inquire on the role of architecture in providing a space of representation for contemporary political bodies. Brussels, home of Benelux, EU and NATO, will be taken as a paradigmatic example, and the European Parliament as a concrete case study. The output of the workshop will be short films directed by the students and produced with the support of a specialized team from the HELB.

The workshop is based on the assumption that film is an instrument that can mediate architectural experience and thus construct a new understanding on existing architectures. This year, the workshop will use the audiovisual medium as an architectural tool to project new narratives on and unveil the hidden poetics of the building of the European Parliament. The objective of the exercise is to reactivate its representative role within a contemporary context in which generating strategies depend on digital media to a great extent.

The Directorate-General for Communication of the European Parliament will expose their present communication program and present the institution and building. A pool of invited teachers, with experience in different disciplines, will help to develop the projects and give a critical insight to the work. A series of lectures will articulate the theoretical content of the course. The final pieces will be presented in a public event. The European Parliament reserves the right to use the films for communication purposes.


Since the Second World War, numerous supra-national political institutions have established their headquarters in Brussels. The European Union and NATO concentrate their principal premises in the capital of Belgium along with many other international organizations. However, Brussels, as a representational space containing some of the most powerful institutions in the world, has no evocative aura. The buildings that accommodate these political bodies are vaguely present in the collective imagery. Their capacity to build a space that effectively represents the organizations that govern us seem to be diluted by corporate-like buildings that camouflage in-between banks, offices and hangars; as an example, the recently build NATO headquarters by SOM or Justus Lipsius building, house of the European Commission.

10 years ago the Berlage Institute pursued the project “Brussels. A Manifesto” addressing the problem of architectural representation of European institutions in Brussels. Their diagnosis was that the lack of visibility of the European institutions should be solved by replacing the existing architectures by more readable buildings, that would make evident where power structures reside. Despite the public space and the architectural quality of those buildings that could be strongly improved, the proposal dismisses the potentiality and hidden affect of the already existing structures. 10 years later, we propose to look at Brussels again. Not to dismiss the present build environment but to unveil its internal poetics.

Supra-national political institutions are increasingly necessary. Nevertheless, an appealing narrative around the existing buildings in Brussels is obviously missing. These buildings have no famous names to refer to (such as l’Elysée, the Kremlin, Westminster Palace), or nicknames such as the White House of the Pentagon. No films were made about the Berlaymont, the Justus Lipsius or the European Parliament. They are not glamorous nor scary, not lovable or hateable. Protesters don’t even think to gather in front of them, because these buildings and the public space related to them don’t have any evocative power. Even if powerful and effective, these institutions have failed to acquire presence in the collective thinking. They are considerably unknown, and often regarded as opaque technocratic machines, that are sheltered in emotionless buildings.

The workshop is based on the assumption that film is an instrument that can mediate architectural experience and thus construct a new understanding on existing spaces. This year the workshop will use the audiovisual medium to build up a new narrative around the EU institutions, concretely the European Parliament.


Luis Cerveró (film director):

Cerveró, is a film director with a wide experience in experimental film, music videos and advertising, who has signed pieces for artists like Pharrell Williams, Justice and Liars as well as made films for upcoming artists like Pegasvs

Mathieu Berger (sociologist):

Berger is a sociologist and specialist of urban issues and policies, in Europe and the US. Since his professional beginnings in 2003, he has built an expertise on matters such as urban governance, citizen participation, community development and social aspects of urban planning. After a PhD degree in social and political sciences, with a dissertation on Brussels Region’s programs of neighborhood improvement, he became an advisor for Brussels’ minister of environment, energy and urban renovation. Since 2011, Mathieu Berger is teaching in the University of Louvain, urban sociology, research methods and sociological theories of power. In 2012, he receceived the international Jean Widmer Award for his work in sociology of public spaces.

Nicolas Hemeleers (urban planner):

Hemeleers is a law specialist and urban planner, specialized in sustainable urban projects and European urban policies. Between 2009 and 2014, he has been an advisor then a deputy chief of staff for the minister of environment, energy and urban renovation for the Brussels Region. He was in charge of the implementation of the Brussels ERDF program (2007-2013): a global investment of 120 million euros in the economical development, with a focus on the transition towards a green economy, and the renovation of the canal area.

Ludovic Lamant (journalist):

Ludovic Lamant is a French journalist. He writes his first articles from Buenos Aires, where he describes the emergence of a new cultural scene during the Argentinian crisis, from 2002 to 2003. Back in Europe he works in radio (France Culture) and in written press (Alternatives Economiques). Graduated from Centre de formation des journalistes (CFJ) in 2006, he then integrated Reuters and worked on international economy. Based in Brussels, he now covers European matters for the French online newspaper Mediapart.

Marina Otero (architect and curator):

Otero is an architect based in Rotterdam. She is chief curator of OAT2016 together with the After Belonging Agency, and Head of Research at Het Nieuwe Instituut. Previously, she was Director of Global Network Programming at Studio-X, and Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia University GSAPP. Otero studied architecture at TU Delft and ETSA Madrid, where she is a PhD candidate. In 2013, as a Fulbright Scholar, she graduated from the M.S. in Critical, Curatorial and Conceptual Practices in Architecture at Columbia University GSAPP. Her work, recently awarded by The Graham Foundation and Fundación Arquia, has been published in different publications including sqm: The quantified Home, Arquitectura Viva, and Domus. Otero is co-editor of Promiscuous Encounters and Unmanned Architecture and Security Series, and has curated exhibitions at The 2013 Shenzhen Bicity Biennale and the 2014 Istanbul Design Biennial.

Véronique Patteeuw (architect and editor):

Patteeuw is an engineer architect, critic and editor based in Brussels. She is an associate professor at the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture Lille and lectures at the FRAC Orléans. She is currently finalising a doctoral research at the ENSA Paris-Malaquais and co-editing a volume on the role of the architectural media in shaping postmodern architecture. She is the academic editor of OASE.


Bernard Dubois (architect):

Dubois is a Belgian practicing architect and curator graduated in L’École de la Cambre, Brussels in 2009. Based in Brussels, his studio produces projects in Belgium, France, Switzerland, Italy and China. He was co-curator of the Belgian Pavilion at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia.

Pol Esteve (architect):

Esteve is a Spanish practicing architect and teacher graduated from Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura de Barcelona in 2009. He holds Masters in History and Critical thinking by the Architectural Association and is a PhD candidate at The Bartlett (UCL). He has previously collaborated with studios like Cloud9 and R&Sie(n) and founded the practice GOIG in 2015. He is currently teaching design and theory in the AA.

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Cite: "The House of Politics - AA Visiting School Brussels" 26 May 2016. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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