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' Elle pousse, la Capitale Champignon! ' : Questioning skill in the Belgian Congo’s building industry

Robby Fivez (UGent)
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Abstract
The post-war economic boom in the Belgian Congo turned the capital city Leopoldville (known as Kinshasa today) into a hotspot for investors looking for new business opportunities. In the real estate market, the skyrocketing land prices in Leopoldville presented huge investment opportunities. The buildings rose with the land prices, and in place of the low, colonial houses of the pre-war era, multistory buildings redrew the city's skyline. Although the construction challenges posed by the economic and social demands of the colonial project have been largely ignored today, a deeper understanding of these challenges is essential to grasp the built fabric of Congo. In this paper, I try to understand the technological requirements that the 1950s building boom imposed on Congolese contractors, leading to the quick professionalisation of an industry until then defined by unprofessionalism and bricolage. The troublesome introduction of prestressed concrete to the construction site of the CCC building in 1950-52 forms a particularly interesting case to address the challenges of such rapid professionalisation.
Keywords
1950-52, Democratic Republic of Congo, Multi-Storey Buildings, Prestressed Concrete, Building Site Accidents

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Citation

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MLA
Fivez, Robby. “’ Elle Pousse, La Capitale Champignon! ’ : Questioning Skill in the Belgian Congo’s Building Industry.” BUILDING KNOWLEDGE, CONSTRUCTING HISTORIES, edited by Ine Wouters et al., vol. 1, CRC Press, 2018, pp. 273–80.
APA
Fivez, R. (2018). ’ Elle pousse, la Capitale Champignon! ’ : Questioning skill in the Belgian Congo’s building industry. In I. Wouters, S. Van de Voorde, I. Bertels, B. Espion, K. De Jonge, & D. Zastavni (Eds.), BUILDING KNOWLEDGE, CONSTRUCTING HISTORIES (Vol. 1, pp. 273–280). CRC Press.
Chicago author-date
Fivez, Robby. 2018. “’ Elle Pousse, La Capitale Champignon! ’ : Questioning Skill in the Belgian Congo’s Building Industry.” In BUILDING KNOWLEDGE, CONSTRUCTING HISTORIES, edited by Ine Wouters, Stephanie Van de Voorde, Inge Bertels, Bernard Espion, Krista De Jonge, and Denis Zastavni, 1:273–80. CRC Press.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Fivez, Robby. 2018. “’ Elle Pousse, La Capitale Champignon! ’ : Questioning Skill in the Belgian Congo’s Building Industry.” In BUILDING KNOWLEDGE, CONSTRUCTING HISTORIES, ed by. Ine Wouters, Stephanie Van de Voorde, Inge Bertels, Bernard Espion, Krista De Jonge, and Denis Zastavni, 1:273–280. CRC Press.
Vancouver
1.
Fivez R. ’ Elle pousse, la Capitale Champignon! ’ : Questioning skill in the Belgian Congo’s building industry. In: Wouters I, Van de Voorde S, Bertels I, Espion B, De Jonge K, Zastavni D, editors. BUILDING KNOWLEDGE, CONSTRUCTING HISTORIES. CRC Press; 2018. p. 273–80.
IEEE
[1]
R. Fivez, “’ Elle pousse, la Capitale Champignon! ’ : Questioning skill in the Belgian Congo’s building industry,” in BUILDING KNOWLEDGE, CONSTRUCTING HISTORIES, Brussels, BELGIUM, 2018, vol. 1, pp. 273–280.
@inproceedings{8569998,
  abstract     = {{The post-war economic boom in the Belgian Congo turned the capital city Leopoldville (known as Kinshasa today) into a hotspot for investors looking for new business opportunities. In the real estate market, the skyrocketing land prices in Leopoldville presented huge investment opportunities. The buildings rose with the land prices, and in place of the low, colonial houses of the pre-war era, multistory buildings redrew the city's skyline. Although the construction challenges posed by the economic and social demands of the colonial project have been largely ignored today, a deeper understanding of these challenges is essential to grasp the built fabric of Congo. In this paper, I try to understand the technological requirements that the 1950s building boom imposed on Congolese contractors, leading to the quick professionalisation of an industry until then defined by unprofessionalism and bricolage. The troublesome introduction of prestressed concrete to the construction site of the CCC building in 1950-52 forms a particularly interesting case to address the challenges of such rapid professionalisation.}},
  author       = {{Fivez, Robby}},
  booktitle    = {{BUILDING KNOWLEDGE, CONSTRUCTING HISTORIES}},
  editor       = {{Wouters, Ine and Van de Voorde, Stephanie and Bertels, Inge and Espion, Bernard and De Jonge, Krista and Zastavni, Denis}},
  isbn         = {{9781138332300}},
  keywords     = {{1950-52,Democratic Republic of Congo,Multi-Storey Buildings,Prestressed Concrete,Building Site Accidents}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  location     = {{Brussels, BELGIUM}},
  pages        = {{273--280}},
  publisher    = {{CRC Press}},
  title        = {{' Elle pousse, la Capitale Champignon! ' : Questioning skill in the Belgian Congo’s building industry}},
  volume       = {{1}},
  year         = {{2018}},
}

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