JOB by:KU Leuven,October 30, 2018

Full-time scholarship (100%) for PhD project. “The fragment and the whole architectural constructs in comprehensive settings. Exhibition spaces, the garden treatise and the voyage pittoresque in France between 1750 and 1850.”

atKU Leuven,Departement Architectuur

App deadline:December 09, 2018
The Department of Architecture engages in research on architecture, interior architecture, urbanism and spatial planning, conducted at the Faculty of Engineering Science (Leuven) and the Faculty of Architecture (Brussels and Ghent campuses). The Department is an international centre of expertise in these domains and has about 140 (international) doctoral students. The research group Perspectives on Architecture from the Distant Past (PADP) brings together scholars from the KU Leuven Department of Architecture based in Leuven, Brussels and Ghent. The PADP members study various aspects of the architectural legacy of the distant past, including the imagery of spaces and the study of literary and other textual sources. They do so from an indispensable interdisciplinary background that is also rooted in cultural studies, philosophy and literature.

Throughout the nineteenth century, exhibition spaces like museums, collections, but also gardens or secluded landscapes, were intrinsically connected with catalogues, treatises, labels in showcases or with procès-verbaux. They were essentially spatio-textual. The same goes for their objects. The museum for example, which plays a paradigmatic role inthis respect, did not ‘find’ the objects it accommodated. It created those objects by turning displaced fragments into ‘documents’. These ‘documents’ would however remain mute without some sort of comprehensive framework, a wholeness or re-enactment, through in-situ orin-context display. The museum and its object-document thus negotiated the ambiguous relationship, throughout the century, between fragments, displaced from an original, absent or disappeared context and the re-enactment or vivification of that context.

It may be argued that in this balancing of absence and presence into a coherent experience and knowledge of contexts on display, the visitor of these places played a fundamental role. The visitor functioned as an imaginative reader, ableto construct narratives and to immerse him or herself genuinely in the presenceof an absent world. This immersion was however never absolute. It was only provisional and elusive and required at the same time also distance from the re-enactment in display. Authentic immersion in an absent world that was evoked through visual and textual means, could in fact only work when also the visitor, and not just the exhibition space and its objects, was absorbed in a dynamics of distancing and displacement. This modern mobility (Sandberg, 2003) implied that the visitor coherently passed between the modern world outside and the non-modern world in the museum, in front and away from the show, moving from setting to setting. The spectator thus not only played a significant role in constructing the wholeness of these spaces, whether museums, landscapes showing objects, or their representations in catalogues or in travel literature. The spectator also fragmented and subjectified these spaces.

This project aims to study the ambiguous role of the visitor, as both a constructive and disruptive agent in the development of comprehensive spaces of display, between 1750 and 1850 in France. One particular object-document and its relationship with the visitor is focused upon: the architectural construct. The relationship between construct and the visitor is studied in two types of sources: the garden treatise and the voyage pittoresque. These sources are from the angle of object representation and spatial arrangement intimately connected with representation and arrangement in the early long nineteenth century museum, like Lenoir’s Musée des monuments français (1795-1816)shows (Carter, 2007). Themes like (narrative) engagement, materiality, the body and bodily experience, the in situ understanding of (historical) objects, people and events, parcours, perspective, legibility-illegibility and deciphering are central aspects of this relationship to be studied.


We are looking for an outstanding candidate with a keen interest in the history and historical context of architecture,architectural and spatial imageries in written and visual sources (literature,scholarly discourse, catalogues, travel accounts…), within the field of French Studies and/or Eighteenth/NineteenthCentury Studies. The candidate has obtained a Master degree in one of the following fields: architecture, interior architecture, engineering architecture, Romance studies, comparative literature, history of art, history or equivalent. The candidate graduated at least cum laude or has distinguished him-or herself in a similar way during his or her academic career or professional life.


The candidate shows a strong interest in conducting academic research in the field of architecture and history of architecture and interior design.


The candidate is expected to:

  • show a clear interest in and knowledge of the research subject, based on either teaching experience, work experience or research experience
  • show a pro-active attitude and research integrity
  • work both individually and in a multidisciplinary team
  • be fluent in English, proficient in French, with at least a good passive knowledge of Italian
  • support teaching activities in the educational programmes of architecture and interior architecture
  • write scientific publications and to present research results at international conferences and in international (peer reviewed) journals

We offer a doctoral fellowship (100 %) for 1 year (extendable up to 4 years upon positive evaluation by the Faculty Doctoral Commission). As a researcher you will operate in a creative and challenging professional environment within a dynamic team. You conduct research with the aim of obtaining a PhD in Architecture  within 4 years under the supervision of a supervisor who is a member of the Faculty of Architecture.


For more information about the vacancy or the doctoralproposal to be submitted, please contact Prof. Dr. Dominique Bauer (

The expected starting date is 1February 2019.

You can apply for this job no later than December 09, 2018 via the online application tool
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at
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