Workshop Institutional Architecture -Programme


One of the most iconic and concrete encounters one can have with international law is to visit its institutional buildings. Whether by eye-catching design or as dilapidated office, buildings make law physical and visible. One can see a building, maybe even touch it. Sometimes it is possible to visit an institutional building, access it, be part of its space, or experience its boundaries. Through their concrete materiality buildings make international law tangible for its audiences and constituencies. At the same time, international institutional buildings such as the Peace Palace in The Hague and the UN headquarters in New York embody international law’s norms, values and histories. As icons in and of themselves, these buildings play into international law’s imaginaries too.

This 2-day workshop at VU Amsterdam focused on institutional architecture. During the workshop, we will discuss twenty papers on topics such as, but not limited to: the physical architecture of signature international law buildings; the encounter between institutional architecture and ‘the public’; architectural icons as (tourist) attraction; the architectural embodiment of international law’s imaginaries; the (re)production of stories through interactions at institutional buildings and architectural sites; the manifestation of institutional ideals, functions, and values in architecture and design; law residing in physical objects and (re)creating a material world; architecture as part of institutional ‘image building’; institutional buildings as literally international law in concrete.


*This is a hybrid event*

Wednesday 19 October

9.00-9.30         coffee

9.30-10.00       welcome and introductions

10.00-10.30     Hilary Charlesworth, opening words (online)

10.30-11.00     break

11.00-12.30     roundtable 1: Cities
                                    presentations and discussion

12.30-13.30     lunch

13.30-15.00     roundtable 2: Standpoints
                                    presentations and discussion

afternoon         speaker’s walk and dinner

Thursday 20 October

9.00-9.30         coffee

9.30-11.00     roundtable 3: Collections
                                    presentations and discussion

11.00-11.30     break

11.30-13.00     roundtable 4: Headquarters
                                    presentations and discussion

13.00-14.00     lunch

14.00-15.30     roundtable 5: Courts
                                    presentations and discussion

15:30-16.00     break

16:00-17.00     next steps


Roundtable 1: Cities
Chair: Renske Vos

  • Panu Minkkinen, Senate Square, Helsinki: Statist Powers, Architecture and Urban Design
  • Victoria Becci, Law and Architecture’s Brutal Times of Pristina. The Legal Meaning of Spaces where Institutional Architectures are “in search of an author”
  • Susanne Krasmann, Vulnerable Architecture in the Law
  • Bart van Klink, The Utopia of Rojava: A New World for Stateless People

Roundtable 2: Standpoints
Chair: Miriam Bak McKenna

  • Lucy Finchett-Maddock, Psychiatric Architectures and Institutional Aesthetics: The Materio-Legislative Entanglement of Outsider Art
  • Lorna Cameron, The International Court of Justice; As ‘seen’ through its Architecture
  • Miriam Aziz, Show and Tell: (re) Mapping the Legal Space within the New Normal and Beyond
  • Rebecca Mignot-Mahdavi, Institutional Architecture for International Law: Visibility as a Trap

Roundtable 3: Collections
Chair: Renske Vos

  • Jessie Hohmann, Botanic Gardens as International Law’s Architecture
  • Daniel Quiroga Villamarin, Conference-Hosting as State-Building and World-Making: Vignettes from Bogotá (1948), Nairobi (1973), and Beyond
  • Alice Trotter, Architecture of Attitude: Human Rights and Sanctuary Cities 
  • Miriam Bak McKenna, Esthétique: UNESCO, Paris

Roundtable 4: Headquarters
Chair: Miriam Bak McKenna

  • Delphine Dogot, The Discreet Architecture of Global Governance and the OECD
  • Brydon Wang and Rain Liivoja, Architecture and Aspiration in International Law: Designing the Buildings of the United Nations
  • Flávia do Amaral Vieira, International Law goes to Amazon: Institutional Buildings in the Urban Periphery of the World
  • Isobel Roele, A Woman’s Place

Roundtable 5: Courts
Chair: Sofia Stolk

  • Lizzy Kibira, Signs taken for Wonders: International Institutions, Semiotic ambivalence and the (Post) Colonial Imaginary
  • Dinushika Dissanayake, The Architecture of Oppression: An Examination of Court Architecture in Postcolonial Sri Lanka and Impact on Access to Justice for Disadvantaged Women
  • Nhat Minh Le Nguyen, The Construction of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal as Legal Ordering
  • Matilda Arvidsson, An International Jurisprudence of Gardens – Design, Enclosure, and Posthuman Becomings of Law

Thank You!

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