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UPA-BUA Union Professionnelle d'Architectes
Beroepsunie Van Architecten

III. International visions and claims

A short history of belgian architects and their professional organizations

Part III .


The establishment of the International Union of Architects

We have seen that meetings at the international level were a long-standing preoccupation of architects but which had withered because of the First World War.
These meetings are revived with the holding, in 1922, of the X ° international congress of architects, organized in Brussels by the SCAB, on the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary (this congress was originally planned for St. Petersburg, in 1915).

Four years later, in 1928, a group of avant-garde architects, led by Le Corbusier and Siegfried Giedion, founded the International Congresses of Modern Architecture (CIAM) at Sarraz Castle, near Lausanne.

These CIAMs (the 3rd Congress is held in Brussels in 1930), however, are part of a well-defined architectural trend. This may explain why in 1932 the birth of the International Meeting of Architects (RIA) under the aegis of the magazine "L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui" and its young editor-in-chief Pierre Vago. It will take another five years to witness the collaboration between the RIAs and CIAMs during a historic joint session held in Paris.

But it is after the war that things will definitively be put in place with the meeting in 1945 in Paris of a small group of architects (including the Brussels Jules Ghobert), on the initiative of Pierre Vago, with a view to unite the RIAs, the International Permanent Committee of Architects (created in 1867, remember) and CIAM.
The following year representatives of architectural associations from thirty countries met in London to create the International Union of Architects (UIA) and, in 1947, a working group was set up to prepare in Brussels the statutes of this union.
The UIA will finally be founded in 1948 in Lausanne where it holds its first congress (with the parallel dissolution of the CPIA and the RIA). The organizations of the architects of 23 countries (including FAB) sign the statutes and elect the first Executive Committee which includes the Belgian J. Moutschen.

The UIA will quickly establish itself as a key interlocutor and it is thus that in 1956 UNESCO, at the IXth session of its general conference, will take over the UIA's rules and adopt the "recommendation for the organization of international competitions for architecture and town planning”.

It will not be until 15 years later, in 1963, that our sisters will form their International Union of Women Architects, whose president realized that, to qualify for a post of architect of the City of Paris, it was necessary to be male.

The creation of the Belgian Order of Architects

In 1940, in France, the Vichy regime had promulgated the Hautecoeur law which regulated the wearing of the title of architect and created an Order of Architects, in charge of the control of the access to the profession and the discipline (exercise n is not yet regulated). The dissolution of the unions also gave the Order a monopoly on the representation of professionals before the public authorities.
In 1944, at the Liberation, freedom of association was re-established but the French architects' unions must now share the professional representation with the Order, which retains its initial prerogatives.

In Belgium, the immediate aftermath of the war saw the revival of the professional actions but, as regards the creation of an order, it was not until 1955 to witness the creation of a "Ligue pour la défense du titre et de la fonction d'architecte" recognized by the SCAB and supported by the SADBr and the UPA-BUA, as well as by the Society of Architects of the Belgian Congo and Ruanda-Urundi.

The continued action of the architectural associations will eventually see its efforts rewarded with the promulgation, in 1963, of the law creating the Order of Architects. If nearly 9,000 architects register in the first year on the tables of this long-awaited Order, this number will decrease rapidly (some colleagues probably thought it was enough to be registered to have work) to then slowly go up to about 6,000 enrolled in 1972, 7,000 in 1983 and again 9,000 in 1993.

This creation, which has been hoped for for ages, however, has the effect of emptying associations of their living forces: for many architects the Order becomes a kind of super association endowed with the means that have so often been lacking in the associative world and which therefore attracts its members the most dynamic.

In response to the creation of the Order we see the old idea of a union resurfacing the following year with the creation of the Syndicat National des Architectes de Belgique (SNAB) which, after a few years of sporadic meetings, will remain officially until the disappearance, in 2002, of its President and founder, Igor Favichevich.

The College, for its part, will publish in 1964 its first directory (which will be followed regularly until 1972 and, after a period of interruption, included on the website) then, in 1965, its rules of internship and finally, in 1967, its code of ethics.

Following the resignation of its first president Leon Stynen, the National Council of the College of Architects will elect to this post Charles Duyver (one of the founding members of the UPA-BUA) who will carry out three successive mandates.

Challenges and new conditions of professional practice

The protest of May 68 will obviously have repercussions on the profession and the teaching of architecture.
And so, in 1969, in France, the architecture section of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts was replaced by eighteen pedagogical units of architecture, largely autonomous in the definition of their teaching. The humanities are becoming more important in the curriculum and the teaching of architecture is close to the one taught in universities.
In the wake, we also witness the definitive abolition of the venerable Grand Prix de Rome created in 1702, following more and more virulent protests (the 1968 session having already been cancelled).

But it also moves on the side of the French professional world since we see the former union organizations that merge into the National Federation of Trade Unions of Architects (FNSA) which will soon become the National Union of French Trade Unions of Architects (UNSFA) while a union, proclaiming itself clearly on the left, is constituted.
The UIA is also in tune with the concerns of the moment since the theme of its Xth Congress, which is held in Buenos Aires, is "Architecture as a social factor".

In Belgium, agitation and questioning also win the architecture schools and bring many changes including Saint-Luc schools where the Brothers give way to lay directors.
And it is not a coincidence that it is also in 1968 that are created the Archives d'Architecture Moderne (at the initiative of Maurice Culot, professor at La Cambre, to spark debate on the architecture and the urbanism and to highlight the heritage of the history of modern architecture in Belgium) as well as, on the Flemish side, the Sint-Lukasarchief.

In the profession, the FAB organizes in October 1968 a national congress which focuses on four themes: education, industry, fire (we just knew the fire of innovation) and urban planning. Two years later, in 1971, the Order organizes its famous "International Architecture Days at Sablon", bringing together renowned architects, students and the general public at exciting and passionate work and discussion sessions.
Through these debates we begin to perceive that architecture escapes little by little the closed circle of professionals: it is in this perspective that we can locate the launch, by Claude Mainguet, of the magazine "Je vais construire" in 1972.

The associative world is transformed

But the challenges in question also affect the associative world.
Thus, in 1970, the Flemish federated associations decided to join forces in a Flemish federation, the "Bond van Vlaamse Architecten" (BVA), which is not strictly speaking the "Flemish wing". of the FAB but another distinct federation. However, it will often be considered as such to eventually create the creation of its counterpart, the Society of Francophone Architects (SAF), which however will never have a legal existence.
On November 7, 1975, a draft of the new FAB statutes will be drafted but will never be approved by the 17 professional unions that make up the Federation.

However the life of the associations continues: while the SBUAM disappears in 1971, by integrating the SCAB, one sees appearing in 1974 the association of "Architectes Belges Indépendants" (ABI) which will disappear in 1981 and four years later, inspired by the International Union of Women Architects, Dita Roque-Gouvary founds the Union des Femmes Architectes de Belgique (UFAB). In 1979 it was the Architectenvereniging van Mechelen in Omstreken (AMO) which was born as well as the "Compagnie des Architectes de Belgique" (CAB) whose head office is in Liege (still an association which will have a rather short life) .

As we can always see, if architects have often wanted to join forces their scattered initiatives will not always have kept the distance.
It should be noted that the year 1980 saw the merger of the KMBA (koninklijke Maatschappij der Bouwmeesters van Antwerpen) and the VAV (Vlaamse Architektenvereniging) under the new name of Architektenunie (AU).

New ways of working

Beside the big questioning, architects also face changes in professional practice.

In 1971, Belgian architects found themselves subject to VAT (this is also the only liberal profession that is subject to it). Thanks to the energetic action of some (who walled, notably, the Liège VAT controlling bureaus), they get to pay it only when they are paid.
It is in the wake of this fight that a new union initiative is born the following year: the Chambre Syndicale des Architects of Belgium (CSAB) which will be active for two years.

In 1971 it was also the enactment of Breyne law: following the resounding bankruptcy of some real estate developers, the legislator is concerned about the protection of purchasers of buildings under construction or apartments plan.

The questioning and the increasingly rapid evolution of the professional environment oblige architects to start to worry about continuing education and it is with this in mind that the "Group for Education" is launched in France. 'Groupe pour l'Education Permanente des Architectes' (GEPA) under the auspices of the Order and UNSFA since 1972.

Information is also an important issue which justifies the creation, the following year, of the "Centre d'Information en Architecture, Urbanisme et Design" (CIAUD) known mainly as publisher of the new journal A + magazine supported by the Order (which will cause many disputes later) but whose ambitions are initially much broader since they include the organization of exhibitions and conferences. However, it must be remembered that previously other quality magazines such as "La Maison" or "Environment" were broadcast in the world of Belgian architects.
Another initiative worth mentioning is the launch of COBATY, based on an idea from France. This is a kind of service-club but oriented towards the world of construction. The first Board of Directors of this club, still active today, chaired by Dan Craet (Chairman), Robert Maskens (Vice-Chairman) and Jacques Delens (Treasurer) will be held on August 27, 1974.

New worries for teachers

In 1973, the bill called "De Bondt" indicates that the rationalization of architectural education begins to shake the parliamentary world. It must be said that this teaching, with its three networks, two communities and 18 schools, may surprise an outside observer.
And that is not to mention the university education of architectural engineers, where in 1978 the creation of an Architecture department at the VUB Faculteit Toegepaste Wetenschappen will continue.

Notwithstanding this explosion, the architecture students (supported by their teachers) launched a year later a movement of national demand for the passage of their studies to the long type. The president of this movement, unfortunately too ephemeral, is Georges Brutsaert (then student but who will become president of the UPA-BUA in 2004).
These demands will lead to the law of 1977 creating the ranks of "candidate architect" and "architect": the Architecture passes to the Higher Artistic Education of long type and the schools become "Institutes Superior of Architecture" (ISA ) and therefore separate from the other artistic sections with which it previously worked.
This law will naturally be followed by a ministerial circular setting out the new program of teaching architecture.