On an international level, architects' houses were already being increasingly recognized and valued (2015), while for Belgium a vast focus on this particular type of housing existed mainly in Flanders. The knowledge on the architects' houses in Brussels was lacking behind due to historical, political reasons.
Although the Direction of Monuments and Sites was appointed in 1993 to draft the official scientific inventory of the architectural heritage of the Brussels Capital Region, this inventory was at the time only complete for four of the nineteen municipalities of Brussels and partially set up for four others. As a consequence, for Brussels, there was no general database available, but also no overview or research project on this housing type existed, nor were compilation works or assessment tools available. Therefore, the main objective of the research was to document and understand the variety and evolution of architects’ houses in the entire Brussels Capital Region. The research focused on the architect’s house in Brussels as a distinct housing type and elaborates the objective by means of newly developed assessment tools and throughout a design assignment.
252 architects' houses throughout the Brussels Capital Region
The newly established register (first assessment tool) within my master thesis was composed of 252 architects’ houses situated within the entire Brussels Capital Region. It offers a complete overview and includes the exceptionally well documented gems of the city as well as the rather unknown ones that are hardly studied and valorized.
The master thesis was written at the VUB, under the research supervision of Inge Bertels and Stephanie van De Voorde and the design supervision of Jonas Lindekens
Profound analysis of the entire set of architects' houses & detailed case studies
All houses taken up in the register were subject to a more profound study through which the typology of architects' houses was analyzed within the Brussels framework. A narrative framework was thereby developed to assess the architect’s house by means of several criteria (second assessment tool) such as geographical location and the creative ambitions that the architect pursues with this particular design. This framework allows to analyze and assess new cases in the future.
Furthermore also documentary fiches (third assessment tool) were established to study and report on individual cases and their specific qualities. These fiches, which have been completed for five cases by means of ‘test case’, allow in-depth and comparative research.
Private residence of Louis Herman De Koninck in Ukkel
For the master thesis of architectural engineering, also an integrated design assignment, related to the scientific architectural research had to be worked out. The final result is summarized in a portfolio and visually supported by a physical model. Within the research part of my master thesis, it was observed that in order to preserve these houses, valorisation projects are of importance. Therefore, by means of test case, the private residence of Louis Herman De Koninck was selected for the design assignment. The house was historically analysed and a reconversion project to a house museum was set up. By anticipating on this public program, the resilience of these kind of houses was tested. The result is visualized in the portfolio.