Learning from Brussels. An irreductive approach to architectural and urban problématiques?

Isabelle Doucet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Informed by object-oriented and relational perspectives on space, this article argues for more complex accounts of architectural and urban problématiques. Starting from Isabelle Stengers' distinction between la ville complexe and la ville compliquée, it discusses the 2010 exhibition "Building for Brussels. Architecture and Urban Transformation in Europe" (BOZAR, Centre of Fine Arts Brussels) as a showcase of how architects struggle to adopt a "complex" and "irreductive" approach. This article, as such, uses the discussion of this exhibition as a device to explore the methodological consequences of a relational approach to the city, namely the simultaneous need for more complex accounts of objects (e.g. a city, a building) and an appropriate modus operandi for making such accounts. It argues that, instead of choosing for complexity, the "Building for Brussels" exhibition has made the choix de la complication, and this largely because of a strong disciplinary belief in the all-encompassing force of architecture to "solve" the city.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-39
Number of pages10
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Architecture
  • Brussels
  • Choix de la complexité
  • Irreduction
  • Isabelle Stengers
  • Relational perspectives on space


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