Steel Architecture Politics: From ECSC Worker Housing to Industrialized Building for Europe (1954-1976)

Activity: Talk or presentationTalk or presentation at a workshop, seminar, course or other meeting


A structural IPE steel-profile is a given in building practice, with standardized values to calculate corresponding loads, strength, and consistency. Only the last letter of the abbreviation suggests that there is something more to it: “E” stands for Europe, and for a history of steel architecture that was of great political interest for the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). As early as the 1960s, the ECSC was attempting to industrialize, rationalize, and standardize construction, thereby bolstering Europe’s steel and carbon industry. ECSC-sponsored steel architecture functioned as an integral tool in shaping the political economy of Europe in the postwar period. Beginning with housing in the 1950s for the massive migration of European steel workers, the ECSC promoted architectural designs from the mid-1960s onward that, in addition to industrializing construction through steel architecture, intended to create a stronger European economic community. This lecture addresses the emergence and failure of those ECSC strategies to make steel architecture the driving force of Europe. Although steel housing ran out of steam in Europe by the late 1970s, an architectural history of ECSC steel norms and social policies reveal the underlying political and economic motivations that are still in place up until the present day.
Period5 May 2022
Held atGoethe University, Germany
Degree of RecognitionInternational