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From demolition towards preservation: A paradigm shift for Brussels building sector

  • December 21, 2021

Why are buildings being demolished and how can we influence decision making processes of building teams? How do narratives on the city and architectural taste influence whether a building will be demolished? What is (the impact of) architectural obsolescence and premature demolition in the context of Brussels? These questions are the core of the Applied PhD “From demolition towards preservation: a paradigm shift for Brussels building sector” funded by Innoviris. The project is a collaboration between the department of Architectural Engineering of the VUB and Rotor asbl/vzw. Louise Huba, the PhD candidate, is supervised by a double team of promoters: Stephanie Van de Voorde and Ine Wouters for VUB and Lionel Billiet and Michael Ghyoot for Rotor

In Belgium the building sector is responsible for over 30% of all waste production, an amount which is increasing yearly. Most of this waste is generated by the demolition of existing buildings. Regardless the efforts of policy makers and other stakeholders to prolong the lifespan of existing buildings, the impact on the amount of demolition waste is limited. This is partly due to the complexity of the question and the lack of scientific data.  This research project envisions to trigger a paradigm shift “from demolition towards preservation” within the building sector of Brussels.  The focus will be on the prevention of premature demolition of large-scale buildings, as these have the largest impact: one large-scale building generates up to 10 to 17% of the yearly amount of construction and demolition waste in the Brussels-Capital Region.  By analyzing the past 40 years of demolition in Brussels the project envisions to give an historical perspective to formulate recommendations for future policy making. The close collaboration with Rotor and other stakeholders in the sector allows to test different strategies on how to influence decision-making processes in practice. 
The project starts in January 2022.

Picture by Cécile Guichard.

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