For me it is essential to anchor the courses in the reality of the practice of architecture, while feeding them through research.Julie NEUWELS, Associate Professor in Sociotechnical Approach to Architectural Production. Picture: ©Michel Houet.
ulie Neuwels graduated in 2006 from the ISA Victor Horta, and first worked as an architect, while pursuing a complementary master's degree in environmental issues at the ISA Saint-Luc in Liège. "It was in 2010, on the occasion of the merger of schools of architecture and universities, that I began a scientific career as part of a doctoral thesis at the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Brussels. Approaching architecture as a social construction and an instrument of action, I was interested in the evolution of the triptych architecture, public action and modern developmentist ideologies induced by the emergence of the sustainable development reference framework in the Brussels construction sector. This included questioning the transformative impact of related policies by focusing on their meaning rather than their effectiveness. "
After her thesis, Julie Neuwels definitively stopped practicing architecture to devote herself fully to research. "In addition to a position as project coordinator at the Brussels Studies Institute, I then participated in an ethnographic study on the appropriations made by the inhabitants of high energy performance housing in Brussels. In 2017, as part of a mandate as FRS-FNRS researcher again at ULB, I continued this work by approaching it from the perspective of architects. This research, which I will continue at ULiège, investigates the appropriations that architects make of the normativities of sustainable living. At the crossroads of architectural and innovation sociologies, the objective is to identify and understand the different configurations between technicality and habitability at work in the production of sustainable collective housing, from the most techno-centric to the most socio-centric. It is also a question of questioning the capacity for innovation and political commitment of architects in a context of a growing technical register, environmental emergency and increasing social inequalities. As a lecturer in charge of the "Methodology of Thesis" course, this post-doctoral fellowship was also an opportunity to develop a teaching activity that reinforced my desire to pursue a career in the university world. "
Anchor the courses in the reality of the practice of architecture
"I am fortunate to have a responsibility that involves major issues facing my students. Today, the architect has to deal with the expansion and diversification of technical systems (equipment, simulation software, labels, standards, etc.), but not without raising fundamental questions about the meaning of architecture and the societal role of architects. I see two main pedagogical objectives in this. On the one hand, it is a question of nurturing the reflexive and critical posture of students with regard to the advantages, limits and drifts of technical systems. On the other hand, it is a question of equipping them for their future profession by showing how and why these systems support architectural creativity and environmentally, socially and economically committed practice. To do this, it seems to me essential to anchor the courses in the reality of the practice of architecture, while feeding them through research. Sociological studies focusing on the inhabitants, historical studies on building equipment, modern comfort, building analyses, comparative studies of software or equipment, sociology of architecture,... the relevant sources for this are numerous and diversified. In addition to the lectures, I also aspire to contribute to the development of a thesis course specific to socio-technical studies, with the prospect of leading to doctorates which in return could feed the teaching component."