This paper discusses several examples of leisure infrastructure that are more or less typical for the gradual evolution in Belgium from pillar-focused and pillar-financed buildings towards state-sponsored, ‘pluralist’ infrastructure that nevertheless still catered to pillarised organisations. We question whether the leisure infrastructure that was brought about by the formation of the welfare state played a significant role in the gradual decline of pillarisation as an important fact of daily life. Because we are architectural historians, our selected case-study buildings are also interesting from an architectural point of view. They embody ambitions and claims that go beyond the merely utilitarian and thus contribute to the spatial quality and uniqueness of their sites. Some of these buildings are still standing; most of them, however, over the course of time were deemed redundant and have fallen prey to demolition.

Janina Gosseye, Hilde Heynen, “Designing the Belgian welfare state 1950s to 1970s: social reform, leisure and ideological adherence”, Journal of Architecture, 15: 5 (2010): 557-585. DOI: 10.1080/13602365.2010.519950

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