Under Construction, Building Contractors In Nineteenth Century Belgium
Free (open access)
35 - 44
I. Bertels, K. Verswijver & I. Wouters
Public works contractors constitute a vital link in the public building process. The search for the best contractor, from a qualitative and/or economical perspective, became a quest for several clients and designers in the course of the nineteenth century. This paper examines how part of this specific group of ‘builders’, those who were active in public works, can be defined, in both quantitative and qualitative terms within the Belgian context. What potentiality of public work contractors was available? How did these contractors relate to other professions within the building industry? And how did they participate in the redefinition and (re)positioning of the roles of ‘architect’, ‘engineer’, ‘contractor’, and ‘craftsman’? Starting from previous research on the Antwerp public works, we will define, position and follow the evolution of nineteenth century building contractors in its Belgian and broader context. Our paper is based on concrete cases such as individual public buildings and infrastructure, specifications, tenders, contracts, disputes and legal business, mostly conserved in Public Archives and the recently discovered private archive of the Cercle des Entrepreneurs de Travaux publics. Keywords: Belgium, nineteenth century, public works, contractors, professionalization process.
Belgium, nineteenth century, public works, contractors, professionalization process