PhD /   Architects' houses in Brussels. Strategies for valorization.

Master thesis                PhD    

Building on the master thesis, this PhD-project will focus on three main lines of research. 


Firstly, the original design intentions and qualities of architects’ houses will be studied on various levels (aesthetic, practical, technical, functional, formal, urban, etc.). The motives and objectives of the architects will be questioned: did they design the house as a manifest, a business card or a social or technical laboratory? The definition and assessment of these characteristics will form the necessary basis for further qualitative maintenance, renovation and restoration strategies. Therefore, it is of importance that the composed register will be further developed and new cases and details will be added.

Secondly, the evolution of architects’ houses over time will be looked into, including changes in occupancy, perception and material transformations. In addition, the interventions or transformations that might have occurred prior to, during or immediately after the architect’s residence can influence the perception of the house and contribute to their state and status (listed versus demolished). A selection of qualitative restoration projects in Brussels will be studied in depth and confronted with (inter-)national best practices (through literature study, archival research, interviews with experts and stakeholders), in order to analyze the process of how and why ‘building projects’ evolve into ‘architectural heritage’ and which obstacles could be found on the way.

Lastly, it will be investigated how this patrimony can be assessed and valorized in a qualitative way. Starting from best practices, sustainable and respectful strategies and recommendations for the future of these houses will be formulated (based on empirical, theoretical and interdisciplinary research). The results will be disseminated via various channels: academic peers will be reached through conference presentations, journal articles and the final PhD, while professionals, policymakers and the wider public will be addressed by means of workshops, public lectures, this open-access project website and (vulgarizing) publications.

The research is conducted under the supervision of prof. dr. Inge Bertels and prof. dr. Stephanie Van de Voorde (VUB, department of Architectural Engineering), in collaboration with Barbara Van der Wee Architects. It is financed by Innoviris through a Doctiris scholarship: the scholarship involves a part-time embedment at the university and in a private company (in this case the architectural office Barbara Van der Wee Architects’), to ensure a continuous synergy between theory and practice. 

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