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Engineering the urban society of the modern road in Belgium, 1889-1962

Research Unit: Urban Planning
Academic year: 2013/2014
Staff: David Peleman Pieter Uyttenhove

This dissertation aims to shed a new light on the project for the modernisation of the roads that was realized in Belgium between 1889 and 1962. The research starts from the premise that a broad group of actors contributed to a repositioning of the modern road in society – a process that went hand in hand with the modernisation of the roads. A wide range of associations – of drivers, tourists, engineers, industrials, building contractors, academics – that occasionally described themselves as Les Hommes de la Route appealed to a number of commonplaces to make their project comprehensible and to communicate their project to the public. By way of six of those places or topoi – the city, the landscape, the laboratory, the conference, the street and the museum – this dissertation outlines how the project of the modern road was inscribed in the public sphere and how it contributed – in a diversified way – to the urbanisation of the Belgian territory and society.