The Architecture of Dutch Diplomacy

Embassy Buildings as Symbols of National Identity.

PhD Candidate: drs. W.M. (Hélène) Damen
prof. dr. B.J.F. (Bernard) Colenbrander en dr. S.M. (Sergio) De Sousa Lopes Figueiredo
Project Period:
January 2016 – December 2019

The PhD research focuses on the relationship between architecture and national identity, more specifically on Dutch embassy buildings as a form of national representation since World War II.

Traditionally embassy buildings are (semi) public buildings. It is never just a functional building - an ordinary office building –, but also a symbolically charged building. As a representation of a culture in a foreign country, the embassy building is inherently a political gesture. It represents a nation. As such the design of an embassy building often refers to some characteristic aspects of the culture and national character of that nation.

In an era of globalization and fading boundaries it seems as if cultural and national characteristics have lost their meaning in architecture. Still there is one specific building category where the idea of national identity remains an important topic: the embassy building. More often national governments use embassy buildings as a tool to brand their nation. Since the 1990s the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs started an extended building program of embassy buildings to promote Dutch culture (specifically architecture) abroad. In the two following decades Dutch embassies all over the world have been renovated, extended or newly built by prominent Dutch architects.